Today we chat with Alex Karas, Director of Arts Programs at The LA Promise Fund.
I am an educator, starting my career as a PreK-8 visual art teacher in Chicago Public Schools. I can make anything out of construction paper and tempera paint! Now I use what I learned in the classroom to create arts education programs for schools across Los Angeles. I do this work as the Director of Arts Programs for the LA Promise Fund where I oversee the ArtsMatter program. My team and I focus on the field of media arts and bring learning experiences in filmmaking, animation, and more to thousands of students each year.
Why do you do this work? What do you love about it? I believe that an education in the arts is something that every student should have access to as part of their regular schooling. Unfortunately, many schools lack funding for the arts and need programs like ArtsMatter to fill the gap. It is an honor to be able to offer our services to so many students and to advance learning in the arts across Los Angeles. Doing this work effectively requires strong partnerships from the school’s teachers, all of whom already possess such incredible skills and knowledge. My favorite part of my job tapping into teachers’ existing strengths to develop new instructional practices that promote student learning in the arts.
What's one of your favorite memories during your work on ArtsMatters? During the last day of our kick-off professional development series, our cohort of teachers presented what they had learned to local leaders in the arts and education communities. Even though these teachers were new to arts education, they showed such commitment and genuine excitement about the work they were about to do in their classrooms. It was such a joy to watch them become leaders in the new field of media arts education. I was very proud.
When you were a teenager, what did you want to do in life? I don’t think I really had any idea what was ahead of me but I thought that being a contestant on Survivor would be incredible. I would 100% be the first one voted out but it would be a thrill to have my torch snuffed by Jeff Probst.
If you could give your teenage self some advice, what would it be? Take more risks and definitely quit the middle school basketball team.
What are three fun facts about you?
I have a twin brother
I eat more canned tuna than you think I should
I was the president of my high school’s Math Club
What artist(s) inspires you and why? The animators who worked on Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers. I was deeply obsessed as a small child, I even dressed up as Dale for Halloween one year (my brother went as Chip of course). Doing this work in media arts has reminded me how important that show was to me and how important media can be for so many young people.
What is the one thing you are sure to do when we are on the other side of this Pandemic? Give so many hugs!