California's Kids and Communities Boosted by State Assembly's Investment in the Arts

California’s Kids and Communities Boosted by State Assembly’s Investment in the Arts

New grant programs and arts education initiatives will touch 43 California counties

With a grant from the Arts Council, Kala Art Institute will bring together multiple community partners for Print Public, a new placemaking project along the San Pablo Avenue Transit Corridor in West Berkeley.
Less than one year ago, on July 15, 2013, the California Arts Council received $2 million in savings from the 2013 State Assembly operating budget. With this one-time support, the Council was able to fund 34 grant projects and two major arts education initiatives, reaching 43 counties across California.

The programs and initiatives supported by the Council reflect its longstanding commitment to arts education and California's young people, and a desire to stimulate economic development in communities around the state through the arts and creativity.

Speaker John A. Perez directed the one-time funds to support arts and arts education programs in California communities via grants or direct services only. Funds were not used for the Council’s administrative costs. The funds were encumbered during the 2013-14 fiscal year and are to be expended for activities completed by June 30, 2015.

“We are grateful to Speaker Emeritus Perez and the State Assembly for their belief in the power of the arts to transform our communities, grow our economy, support our young people, and improve our state,” said Wylie Aitken, Chair of the California Arts Council. “This investment has reinvigorated our arts community – and we know the impact of these projects will be significant and enduring.”

Aitken continued, “The momentum resulting from this vote of confidence has been remarkable. Our agency just received a one-time state general fund budget increase of $5 million for fiscal year 2014-15. With these new funds, the Council stands ready to address the pressing issues of the arts field and of the state in the year to come.”

Craig Watson, Director of the Arts Council remarked, “Over the next year, as these new projects and initiatives take place, there will be remarkable stories to tell of the great impact from these arts and culture investments. With their enthusiasm for these programs, our constituents have shown the critical need for the arts in California’s communities, and an ability to quickly and creatively act to engage in new opportunities.”

With the one-time Assembly funds, the Council aimed to support a limited number of exceptional projects in order to reach out to new communities, serve geographically diverse populations, build greater public awareness of the contributions of the arts, and encourage partnerships between arts organizations and local businesses and governments. Below is a summary of the supported initiatives and grant programs.

Arts Education Initiatives

The Council invested $300,000 in each of two arts education initiatives, partially resulting from two years of work by a statewide arts education coalition known as Core Reforms Engaging Arts To Educate (CREATE) CA . The California Arts Council is a founding organization of the CREATE CA coalition, which addresses the full inclusion of arts into the California public education system. The coalition has engaged in extensive discussions, planning, and collaboration with a variety of organizations, associations, and individual leaders.

The two high-impact, “shovel-ready” arts education investments include:
  • Turnaround Arts CA, a program using arts education strategies to significantly improve ten of California’s lowest performing elementary schools, in partnership with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the California Department of Education.
  • Creativity at the Core, an innovative program of the County Superintendents Educational Services Association, which places arts at the forefront of Common Core adoption in California with support from professional arts organizations. This statewide initiative will help teachers and administrators navigate the new Common Core standards by using the arts in professional development training, leading to student success in Common Core and 21st Century learning.

Competitive Grant Programs

The Council created three competitive grant programs that were administered through an open call for applications, advisory panel review, and Council review and approval. These programs resulted from identified state and Council priorities, a strategic plan listening tour conducted across California, and a survey to the field. In a very short period of time, the Council developed grant guidelines, conducted multiple advisory panel review sessions, reviewed individual applications, and voted to award funds. These grants are the largest awards provided by the Arts Council in many years.

The three competitive grant programs are:
  • JUMP StArts (Juveniles Utilizing Massive Potential Starting with Arts) supports high-quality arts education and artists-in-residence programs for at-risk youth – youth within the jurisdiction of California's juvenile justice system – in classroom, after-school, or incarceration settings. The Council received 37 applications for this program, and was able to award a total of $209,000 to seven organizations in diverse settings across California at a public meeting on April 23, 2014 in San Jose.
  • Arts on the Air supports the creation, broadcast, and distribution of original public media content designed to expose Californians to powerful stories about the arts and their value. At a public meeting on June 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, the Council awarded a total of $200,000 to three public television and radio stations, resulting in a 37-county reach and the creation of multicultural and Spanish-language programming. Fifteen organizations applied to this program.
  • Creative California Communities (CCC) supports projects representing a wide range of arts disciplines, which aim to revitalize neighborhoods through the arts, foster new arts engagement, stimulate tourism, create jobs for artists, invest in young people, and build relationships between local arts, business, and government, and non-arts entities. CCC is the largest of these one-time competitive grant programs created by the Council. At its inception, the Council anticipated spending $700,000 to fund seven to fifteen projects, but the field’s response to this call for applications was overwhelming. The Council received 157 applications for this highly competitive program, and upon reviewing the applications, awarded 24 grants totaling $1,042,477 at a public meeting on June 18, 2014 in Los Angeles.

Examples of Funded Grant Projects (in alphabetical order)

A Reason to Survive, San Diego County: ARTS Enterprises will expand their already-successful artistic and community opportunities for at-risk youth, artists and businesses, all based on the creation of artfully designed goods and services by youth artists. $50,000 CCC grant.

AmadorArts, Amador County: “River Reflections” will harness the arts over a six-month period to build awareness and appreciation of the Mokelumne River among the 1.4 million people who depend on its water, from the Sierra foothills to the East Bay Area. $40,000 CCC grant.

Armory Center for the Arts, Los Angeles County: The Armory Center for the Arts will provide standards-based arts education through Learning Works at Homeboy Industries, led by Master Armory Teaching Artists who have a passion for educating and mentoring at-risk and in-crisis youth. $22,500 JUMP StArts grant.

First Voice, San Francisco County: First Voice will curate Suite J-Town, a multicultural, inter-generational series of events, performances and exhibits created to revitalize the San Francisco Japantown neighborhood, celebrate its 100-year history, and commission young artists to contribute their voice for future generations. $50,000 CCC grant.

Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County: The first California tour of It Gets Better, a new stage work blending music, theater and multimedia, will travel to underserved communities across the state with a message of hope and tolerance. Each performance will cap a week of community dialogue and art-making addressing prevention of high-school bullying. $50,000 CCC grant.

KQED, Northern California: KQED will pilot a new multimedia thematic collection exploring the intersection of art and social issues in California through the eyes of artists from diverse backgrounds. Distribution of “SPARK: Arts and Social Issues” is expected to reach 28 California counties via television, radio, interactive and education platforms. $75,000 Arts on the Air grant.

Marin Shakespeare Company, Marin County:  Marin Shakespeare Company will build on its eleven years of success bringing Shakespeare to San Quentin Prison, to combine drama therapy, study and performance, and autobiographical writing to the youth at Marin Community School. The focus will be on Romeo and Juliet and its themes of love and hate, peer groups, authority figures, decision-making and self-destruction. $31,500 JUMP StArts grant.

Peralta Hacienda, Alameda County: Peralta Hacienda will design an interactive outdoor “museum without walls” called the Urban Book, creating an arts and performance gathering place in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood. $50,000 CCC grant.

Plumas County Arts Commission, Plumas County: “Plumas Artisan Made” will provide branding support with business and marketing training for local artist entrepreneurs in the far north of California, to develop, execute and promote a new economic strategy for this rural area. $40,000 CCC grant.

Radio Bilingüe, Central Valley: Radio Bilingüe will produce and broadcast eight short-form features and eight call-in interview/talk shows called “Raices – Los Maestros,” highlighting innovative Latino artists who are ensuring that younger generations know and experience art and what it can offer their lives and communities. All productions will be broadcast in 23 California counties, streamed live, and archived for public use. $50,000 Arts on the Air grant.

San Benito County Arts Council, San Benito County: “Activate Downtown,” in partnership with the Hollister Downtown Association, will harness the arts as a catalyst for economic growth, neighborhood revitalization and community engagement in Hollister, through coordinated events and site-specific projects. $42,500 CCC grant.

View a full list of funded grant projects at the links below:

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