During the Getty’s second annual all-staff Day of Service, we give back to an organization that brings art to L.A.’s poorest kids 

Inner-City Arts

Inner-City Arts is a haven of safety and creativity in the heart of L.A.’s Skid Row.

Inner-City Arts nestles in the warehouse district of downtown L.A. like a lustrous pearl in an oyster. Amidst poverty, homelessness, and acres of concrete, it’s an oasis of creative potential.

This innovative nonprofit brings the joy of art-making to thousands of local elementary, middle- and high-school students each year. It began in 1989 as the brainchild of two men who were concerned about the lack of arts education in Los Angeles due to budget cuts—particularly for students living on Skid Row. Armed with a firm belief in its profound long-term benefits, artist and teacher “Dr. Bob” Bates and entrepreneur Irwin “Irv” Jaeger teamed up with the L.A. Unified School District to offer classes in visual and performing arts to 60 students that first year.

Today, 25 years later, Inner-City Arts has enriched the lives of more than 150,000 students through daytime, after-school and weekend classes in all aspects of the arts: animation, ceramics, dance, industrial arts, music, painting, photography, and theater. In the middle of Skid Row, this institution has blossomed—partnering with prominent organizations across the city to bring the power of the arts to students and teachers alike.

Today, a team of 35 volunteers from all corners of the Getty is coming together to lend a hand to Inner-City Arts during our second annual all-staff Day of Service. It’s one of four locations where we’re devoting our efforts—the other wonderful organizations are the L.A. Food Bank, Ocean Park Community Center, and Mountains Restoration Trust. Another team at the Getty Center is also prepping Zoetrope strips and scribble books for future activities at Inner-City Arts.

Downtown at Inner-City Arts, one small group devoted their time and energy to organizing the burgeoning costumes and props closet for the campus’s Rosenthal Theater. This state-of-the-art black box theater is used often throughout the year for all kinds of creative programming, such as plays, dance recitals, stand-up comedy, and poetry slams. This photo from one of our volunteers captures some of the before-mess and after-order.

Another team set about organizing art supplies for upcoming spring classes. The majority of our group donned work gloves and cleared out weeds and debris from the campus’s beautiful green spaces, of which there are many—augmenting the welcoming, oasis-like feel of the place.

Getty volunteers at Inner-City Arts

Part of the Getty crew in charge of beautifying Inner-City Arts’ gardens

Annie Combs-Brookes at Inner-City Arts

Applying my gardening skills to plant yarrow and lamb’s ears at Inner-City Arts

Although a substantial number of us volunteered at Inner-City Arts during the Getty’s inaugural Day of Service in 2013, many were being introduced for the first time to this gem of an educational institution, which offers volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Many expressed a desire to return the following year—so here we are!

Getty volunteers prepare art supplies at Inner-City Arts

Getting those art supplies ready!

In addition to sending an annual volunteer corps to do manual labor, the Getty supports Inner-City Arts year-round. Thanks to the Getty Foundation, we contribute $10 for every survey completed by visitors to the Getty Center. These surveys help us improve what we offer visitors and provide money for a worthy cause. Look for the survey forms near the tram on your next visit to the Getty Center. To learn about many more ways you can support Inner-City Arts, see their support page here.