Samy’s Camera has a 40-year history of supporting children’s art education. We use our Outreach program to provide free photography courses and workshops to the students and youth most in need.  We are committed to helping in other ways, too.  We provide professional photographs for non-profits to use in fundraising, helping them expand their impact.  Most recently, the lack of music education in schools was brought to our attention.

According to the Department of Education, 1.3 million elementary school students don’t have access to music classes.  Budget cuts gutted school arts programs in the 21st century, and the L.A. Unified School District was one of the hardest hit.  From 2007-2012, funding for arts education in the LAUSD dropped from a “budgeted high of $78.6 million to $18.6 million, a 76% drop (Study International).”  Parents and educators found this especially troubling in a city that is the “epicenter of the entertainment industry (LA Times).”

The cuts were both drastic and tragic, considering the research on the benefits of music education for youth.  Music education develops language, reasoning, and memorization skills, increases hand-eye coordination, deepens emotional development and builds imagination and intellectual curiosity (National Association for Music Education).  Furthermore, music education keeps kids in schools, leads to better SAT scores, cuts the rate of substance abuse, provides important stress relief in our fast-paced world, and even prepares young people for the new economy, in which “Seventy-two percent of businesses say they look for creative skills when hiring (www.ed.gov).” Music education in childhood has been linked to boosts of seven points on IQ scores (ETMLA.org).  According to experts, students who play musical instruments have “higher self-esteem, confidence, discipline, concentration, and emotional intelligence than kids who don’t (www.LAPhil.com).”

The LA Times performed a study that showed how minority and low-income students were affected disproportionately by the budget cuts to music and arts education.  Schools in wealthier areas were better equipped to get foundations, parents, and community leaders to donate, fundraise, and volunteer to make up the deficit (LA Times).  By law, all California schools are supposed to provide music and art classes in all grades.  The reality, they found, is that almost none of the poorest districts, and far too few overall, meet the legal requirements (LA Times).

Luckily, educators and lawmakers are catching up on the research and fighting back.  The L.A. Unified budget has risen to $26.5 million (Study International).  LAUSD board members rejected a budget that would have cut full-year music and arts programs to half-year programs and spread the district’s 32 instrumental music teachers among 320 schools (CMEA).

Non-profits have stepped up, too, to help fill the void.  Adopt-The-Arts partnered with LAUSD to visit schools once a week, while 
LA’s BEST started an after-school percussion program serving 40 of the school’s K-5th graders. (SCPR.org)

One organization needed Samy’s Camera Outreach’s help.

Nueva Vision Community School is a non-profit that empowers disadvantaged youth through music education in the San Fernando Valley.  Founder Joel Valle believes “music is integral for human development.  It [strengthens] a child’s critical thinking and leadership skills, builds self-confidence, and helps develop creativity and social skills.”  Since 2005, Nueva Vision has been offering free and affordable lessons in piano, guitar, drums, voice, and wind instruments to low-income and minority students.

Small non-profits like Nueva Vision make miracles happen every day with precious little help.  But recently, Nueva Vision School requested a photographer to help promote their program and update their website, with the aim of securing more funding and support.  This is one way Samy’s Camera Outreach can and is delighted to help.  We came bearing our professional lighting and camera equipment and supplied them with thirty edited photos of their facility, equipment, teachers, and adorable students.

We at Samy’s Camera Outreach sincerely hope it helps shine a light on the amazing work Nueva Vision is doing with their students, and expand the reach of their big-hearted program that is so very important to our youth’s lives and futures.