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Laurel Butler - Loyola Marymount University. Los Angeles, CA, US

Laurel Butler Laurel Butler

Lecturer of Studio Arts | Loyola Marymount University


Lecturer of Studio Arts


Laurel (she/her) is an educator, facilitator, organizer, and artist based in Los Angeles, CA on unceded Tonva/Kizh/Chumash/Tataviam land. She is the Director of Youth Programming for Everyday Arts, the Program Development Specialist for 4CLab, and a Doctoral student in Social Justice Leadership at Antioch University. As an independent arts education and social justice consultant, her current clients include the CalArts Community Arts Partnership, for whom she develops trainings in culturally-responsive and trauma-informed pedagogy; the New Mexico Arts & Justice Network, for whom she compiles research and resources for arts providers working with systems-impacted youth; and iLEAD Charter Schools, for whom she develops performing arts programs for pregnant and parenting teens. ​

Laurel received her M.A. in Theater Education and Community Outreach from the University of New Mexico in 2010. Since moving to California in 2011, she has served as Associate Director of UCLA’s Visual and Performing Arts Education program, Arts Education & Social Emotional Learning Specialist for the LA County Office of Education, Youth Development & Leadership Specialist for the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network, Arts Education and Social-Emotional Learning Specialist for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, Program Manager of the Young Artivists Lab at Inner-City Arts, Faculty Lecturer in the UCLA World Arts and Cultures/Dance Department, Youth Arts Manager and Education/Engagement Specialist at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Adjunct Professor in the Performing Arts and Social Justice Department at the University of San Francisco, Dance Teacher at St. James Episcopal School, Social Justice and Service Learning Instructor at Windward School, Multi-Arts Theater Director for the Idyllwild Arts Academy, and an educator for numerous organizations including the Hammer Museum, and the Women’s Center for Creative Work.

Laurel is a recipient of the 21st Century Fox Social Impact award, a Creative Capacity Fund Next Gen Award, an Arts for LA ACTIVATE Fellowship, and multiple grants from the California Arts Council. She has presented her work at the Allied Media Conference, the Create Justice Conference, the Arts in Corrections Conference, Beyond the Bars LA, and the National Convening for Teens in the Arts, and been published in several journals and online publications including Theater Topics, the Journal of Museum Education, and the National Teens-in-the-Arts Report.

Education (3)

Hampshire College: Bachelor of Arts, Performing Arts Pedagogy and Community Cultural Development 2006

University of New Mexico: Master of Arts, Theater Education and Community Outreach 2010

Antioch University: Doctor of Education, Social Justice Leadership for Educational and Professional Practice 2023

Areas of Expertise (3)

Creative Youth Development

Arts Education

Social Justice

Industry Expertise (3)

Professional Training and Coaching


Performing Arts

Affiliations (2)

  • Director of Youth Programming - Everyday Arts
  • Program Development Specialist - 4c Lab

Languages (2)

  • English
  • Spanish

Articles (2)

Something Larger than Ourselves: Redefining the Young Artists at Work Program as an Art-as-Activism Residency for Teens

Journal of Museum Education

Laurel Butler


The Young Artists at Work Program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) recently shifted its model from an afterschool arts program to a young artists' residency. This decision arose from a desire to reposition the youth program as a priority within the larger organization, coupled with a commitment to deepening the pedagogical values of community engagement, positive youth development, and project-based learning. The EMC Arts Innovation Lab for Museums helped pilot the prototyping of a YBCA staff participation model, using an individualized curricular approach to activate new networks of internal and external support. This article details the ways in which an initially semantic shift led to significant changes in program scope, visibility, integration, and outcomes.

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“Everything seemed new”: Clown as Embodied Critical Pedagogy

Johns Hopkins University Press

Laurel Butler


What do we teach when we teach clown? Over the past several years, I have investigated this question by collaborating with a number of different student communities to develop a basic pedagogy of clown: a set of exercises, along with guiding philosophical principles, offering the novice performer an introduction to theatrical clown-performance technique. My pedagogy is, of course, only one approach to teaching clowning; the fundamental principles are particular to a European model of clown, based on the teachings of French clown masters Jacques Lecoq and Phillipe Gaulier. However, in contrast to Lecoq (for whom clown practice is limited to “talented” or formally trained performers), I am of the opinion that anyone, regardless of age or experience, is quite capable of participating in the practice of clown.

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