Nearly a century ago, the Tower Theater in downtown Los Angeles began offering a first-of-its kind technology with a massive vitaphone speaker for the new "talkie" movies that were starting to make waves. Beginning Thursday, Apple will reopen the theater as its newest retail store location, with an added education program called Creative Studios, designed to introduce would-be artists to its own newest technology.
Apple plans to pitch its Creative Studios education program, which is launching alongside its new LA store, as a way for disadvantaged youths to receive mentorship and learn skills that'll take their careers to a new level. To do this, Apple is partnering with local nonprofits, offering technology and financial donations as part of an effort to bring in mentors and established artists who can help teach students who are identified as having faced meaningful barriers to artistic education.
"Creativity and access to education are core values for Apple," Deirdre O'Brien, Apple's senior vice president of Retail and People, said in a statement. "Building on our long history of using stores as a venue to host local artists to educate and inspire, Creative Studios is one more way we're providing free arts education to those who need it most."
Apple's new education program is just the latest step in its efforts to use its stores to help teach people how to use its devices and apps. Since its first store opened, in 2001, Apple has expanded from free classes on how to use computers to annual Apple Camp programs to help teach children how to code, make music and edit video. In 2017, the company revamped its education programs under a new initiative called Today at Apple, which includes special events and concerts at some stores.
Apple typically designs its education programs in house. But for the new Creative Studios initiative, Apple said it'll work with local nonprofits. In LA, that's the Music Forward Foundation, Inner-City Arts and the Social Justice Learning Institute. The first course, which Apple calls Creative Studios LA, will be nine weeks long, starting June 29. Apple said the program will expand to Chicago; Washington, DC; London; Beijing and Bangkok later this year and can run as long as 12 weeks. The company said other retail locations may focus on video, coding and other skills beyond music, and each will offer some public sessions as part of their programs.
For the Beijing program, Apple said, it's partnering with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation and the China Social Entrepreneur Foundation. That program, set to run for 12 weeks, will focus on working with migrant youth living in Beijing "who have not had a chance to express themselves creatively," Apple said. Unlike the LA program, which focuses on music and accompanying artistry, the one in Beijing will include photography and videography, music and app design.