AEAC was born in 1999 after three moms who were also artists decided to take matters into their own hands when it came to offering kids a quality arts education by doing it themselves.  They created a nonprofit organization that would remain forever separate from the LAUSD –  “a booster club for everybody” where fundraising could be done independently, enabling the organization to make  donations of programs, services and supplies directly to schools, bypassing the bureaucracy of the school district.  Schools received visual art teachers, orchestras, recorder programs, weekend family art events, murals, cultural field trips, and art supplies.  Fifty schools from throughout the Valley participated in our family arts festival every March, impacting 5,000 kids annually.

The organization went from being a Stage 1 organization (run out of the founder’s den, garage and mini van) to a Stage 2 organization (autonomous from the founder with an office and paid staff) within 7 years.  AEAC rose within the arts education community in Los Angeles as a leader in the field, securing grants from the top foundations in Los Angeles.

The recession hit AEAC hard after charitable giving stopped in 2009.  After the founder and executive director, Spike Dolomite Ward, discovered she had late stage breast cancer in 2011, the organization had to scale way back in order for her to take a year off for treatment.  The mission remains the same but the strategy has evolved to empowering individuals and school teams to take the AEAC model and implement it at the school site level.  To find out how you can create your own, or fortify an existing school arts program, contact

Spike Dolomite Ward Founder and Executive Director

Spike Dolomite Ward
Founder and Executive Director