September 16, 2019

LOUD: Empowering Youth Through Music and Film Education

Five years ago, a new organization was born out of a belief in the arts as a catalyst for fulfillment and creativity, and a conviction that arts education should be available to everyone. Since its launch in 2014, the LOUD program has provided after-school arts programming to middle and high school students in underserved communities. They started serving one school in Santa Barbara, Calif. In the short five years since, LOUD has grown to serving 19 schools, giving more than 400 students each year the opportunity to realize their creative dreams.

We caught up with LOUD’s founder, Mason Orfalea, and Emily Aldredge, Director, to learn more:

What makes arts education so critical for young people, and what drives your mission?
MO: It’s not that we expect students to major in music or film, or because we expect students to play or direct all their life. But we really believe that it’s the arts that makes people human, allows them to recognize beauty, and helps them be closer to a sense of the infinite — whatever lies beyond this world. We think the arts gives people something deeper to cling to, and helps them bring more love, compassion, gentleness, and good into their lives. We believe, in fact, that the arts IS life.

While the LOUD Program helps students use teamwork and self-discipline to develop confidence and realize their dreams, the social ripples go much further. A lot of kids feel misunderstood or that they don’t have a voice. Schools keep cutting arts programs, but the arts teach communication skills. When kids can express themselves through art and music, they feel heard and appreciated, and more empowered to make positive change in their lives.

Talk a bit about your programming: 
EA: We use a non-traditional arts education methodology to build creative and life skills. By meeting kids where they are — at their school, during after school time — we introduce music- and film-making in a dynamic way. We have a 32-week curriculum where students learn hands-on. They work together as bands and film crews, and get to record in our mobile recording studio that comes to schools outfitted with professional recording gear. At the end of the year we hold a culminating event, LOUDFEST, at a professional music venue in the heart of the LA creative community. That provides an exciting and celebratory day for the student bands and filmmakers to show off their skills for friends and family under the bright lights, big screen, and roaring speakers. Last year we had 40 students bands performing and screened 12 student films.

What’s next for LOUD?
EA: This year, LOUD is planning to integrate financial literacy in our music curricula using fictional money for students to promote and invest in their bands. We’ll introduce concepts such as credit, budgeting, and investing, to expose them to the business side of music in an experiential way.  We’re also expanding nationally and internationally! We’re launching a pilot music program with a school in Sweden this fall.