From left are Jaime Zavala, Cynthia Campoy Brophy, Shelby Williams-Gonzalez, and Rory Pullens. (Courtesy photo)

artworxLA, the L.A.-based arts non-profit that provides long-term, sequential arts programming to students to inspire them to stay in school and evolve and excel in creative pathways, celebrated its 30-year anniversary with a gala fundraiser at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on May 5.

Rory Pullens, former executive director of Arts Education for the L.A. Unified School District and current chief education officer at All Sober, a public benefit company serving people suffering from addiction and their loved ones served as the evening’s emcee.

Also, he gave a passionate keynote speech inspiring the audience to collaborate in artworxLA’s mission to lift up our youth, drawing on his own experience of public school teachers who helped to draw him out and realize his natural talents and potential.

During the cocktail hour, the fundraiser featured live, interactive art-making with guests creating directly alongside artworxLA advanced students –  silk-screening to design prints or creating hanging string gardens inspired by the Japanese practice of kokedama, or “moss ball.” THe evening included screenings of the “Little Docs” student films, cinematic projects produced under the mentorship of professional filmmakers.

Since its inception, artworxLA has served over 15,000 students through its multi-faceted arts program, employing over 400 teaching artists in 50 classrooms and partnerships with nearly 100 cultural institutions, including the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the California African American Museum, the L.A. County Museum of Art and the Skirball Cultural Center.

From left are Thomas Turner, LAUSD and Kimiko Warner-Turner, social justice teaching artist at L.A. County High School for the Arts. (Courtesy photo)

In recognition of the 30th anniversary, Cynthia Campoy Brophy, artworxLA founder and former executive director, attended the gala and offered remarks on the evolution of the organization from its early beginnings in 1992 as a counterpoint to the chaos and uncertainty that enveloped the city post-riots to the present day.

“It’s an exciting time for artworxLA.  As we enter a season of a ‘new normal’ it’s apparent that our mission to serve some of the most vulnerable youth in our community is vital to help bring healing and restoration in areas deeply affected by the pandemic,” noted Jaime Zavala, who took the reins as executive director at artworxLA in summer, 2021.

Most recently, he served as executive director at Olive Crest, a non-profit focused on the prevention of child abuse, serving youth and families involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems.

The spotlight at this year’s gala was on the many students that the organization has served over the year, with special attention given to Jasmin Guevara, boardmember and alumni representative, and Nayven Alcantar, boardmember and student representative. Guevara is currently finishing her B.A. degree at Cal State University Northridge and will pursue a career as an academic counselor; Alcantar completed a college scholarship with the Otis College of Art and Design and following graduation, has a goal of opening metalworking studios throughout Southern California.


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