Year-End Highlights

As California’s state arts agency, we have a passion, vision, and affection for the places and people of California – for our artists, our communities, our many cultures – and we take pride in working hard to serve every part of the Golden State.

2016 was a difficult year for many – tragedy, violence, natural disasters, and uncertainty impacted communities across our state. But in many ways, this was also a year full of hope, light, and growth for the arts in California… made possible by the artists, community leaders, local citizens, and elected officials who took action to support the California Arts Council (CAC), and who recognize the importance of the arts and creativity for the success, well-being, and heart of our state.

Here are just a few milestones from 2016:

Celebrating 40 Years

Our agency was established by Governor Brown and came into being on January 1, 1976. Governor Brown created the CAC on the basis that the arts are central to the lives of Californians. Over the past forty years, we’ve awarded more than 30,000 grants with a total investment of $368 million in our state’s artists and communities. Read more >>

Record Number of Grants Awarded

In 2016, we awarded $8.7 million in grants to California nonprofit organizations under ten unique, competitive grant programs. 712 grants were awarded for programs supporting arts education; underserved communities; veterans and their families; local economic development; arts and community development; creative placemaking; and arts service organizations. Read more >>

State Budget Increase

The 2016-17 state budget includes a $6.8 million one-time increase for our grant programs benefiting diverse communities across California. In 2017, we will invest $15 million in communities across California by awarding up to 1,000 grants through 14 unique grant programs. Read more >>

New Data on California’s Creative Economy

For three years, we have commissioned the expansion of an LA regional creative economy report to measure the entire state’s creative sectors. This year’s report revealed a sector economic output of $374.5 billion accounting for roughly 1 in 10 jobs. Read more >>

Arts in Corrections Program Expansion

As part of the state’s multi-tiered investment in public safety, our Arts in Corrections program provides critical rehabilitative arts services to California’s incarcerated population and is made possible by an interagency partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). In 2017, the program will expand to reach all  CDCR adult institutions. Read more >>

State-Certified Cultural Districts

We’re currently completing an extensive public planning process for the future California Cultural Districts program. The program, launching in 2017, will assist Californians in leveraging the state’s considerable assets in the areas of culture, creativity, and diversity. It will support communities where a high concentration of cultural resources and activities are central to local identity, and serve as a tool for preservation in order to fortify and protect local socio-economic diversity, cultural diversity, and ethnic diversity. Read more >>

Featured Grantee Photo: Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir

Guest Post: Empowering Student Voices through Digital Media Engagement in our Schools

By Sibyl O’Malley, Director of Communications and Community Engagement, California Alliance for Arts Education

 “There is a student named Art in your classroom, your school, your district, she can be the click of comprehension, the moment you master the concept, as long as we give her the chance. Today, she writes of the world she would like to see tomorrow, a world that is colorful and warm, the perfect weather for anyone to bloom.” —Excerpt from “A Student Named Art”, 2016 Student Voices Campaign First Place

Last year, hundreds of students took part in the Student Voices Campaign, an annual video advocacy campaign started by the California Alliance for Arts Education that offers a real-world opportunity for students to learn about and impact school policymaking. Through the Campaign, students across the state spurred exciting changes in their schools, including the expansion of arts programs, the hiring of new teachers, and the addition of gender neutral bathrooms.

In California, students are guaranteed a voice in planning and budgeting for their school district. The Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, requires that districts consult with students, parents, teachers and community members each spring to create an official plan for the coming years. The Campaign invites students in grades 7-12 to create videos that respond to the prompt, “What’s your vision for your school?” and share them with their local school board.

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The 2017 Student Voices Campaign launched in November, and we’re excited to release for the first time this year the Student Voices Campaign Classroom Guide. The Guide allows teachers to use the Campaign as an interdisciplinary service-learning project in the classroom, with lessons that can be scaled from periods of a few weeks to several months over the course of a school year. The Guide is recommended for teachers grades 7-12 in any subject area. Download the Guide for free at StudentVoicesCampaign.org.

Program Elements and Resources

To support participation that is widespread as well as rigorous, the Alliance has produced:

  1. Classroom Guide: The Classroom Guide is structured as an interdisciplinary service-learning project, with elements of civic participation, creative expression, media production, and community engagement. The Guide uses National Arts and Media Arts Content Standards as well as Common Core Anchor Standards.
  2. Activate Student Voices Guide: This 10-page resource was created in collaboration with Arts for LA for arts organizations that wish to embed the Student Voices Campaign civic engagement processes in their existing programs for youth.
  3. Student Leadership Lab:The lab supports, documents and shares examples of effective leadership and creative advocacy among a cohort of students. Students use Campaign videos to undertake further advocacy in their community, in school board presentations, one-on-one meetings with school leaders, and student-led learning events.
  4. Arts Now Student Voices Summit:This student empowerment event, the culmination of the Campaign, will bring together students, teachers, and stakeholders from around the state to screen Student Voices videos, participate in student-led advocacy workshops, and explore the possibilities and practical steps of a career in the creative sector.

Partners

The California Alliance has expanded the program this year with support from the California Arts Council. Partner organizations for the 2017 Campaign include some of the state’s most influential arts and education leaders, including Adobe Project 1324, Alameda County Office of Education, Arts for LA, California Arts Council, California State Summer School for the Arts Foundation, Center Theatre Group, Get Lit – Words Ignite, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, Clarence E. Heller Foundation, Inner-City Arts, Performing Arts Workshop, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Venice Arts.

2016 First Place Video


2fb34b8Sibyl O’Malley is the Director of Communications and Community Engagement at the California Alliance for Arts Education. She can be reached at sibyl@artsed411.org.

Cultivating safe, healthy, livable, & vibrant places through Creative California Communities grants

By Shelly Gilbride, Programs Officer, California Arts Council

REGISTER NOW! 
Join our programs team for a CCC webinar on January 19, 2017 at 11 am.

Three years ago, the California Arts Council launched its pilot creative placemaking grant program, Creative California Communities (CCC). What began as a one-year experiment has now become one of our most competitive grant programs.  As a result of overwhelming demand, our Council increased its investment in the CCC program to $3.4 million and expects to fund 30 to 40 projects in 2017. We’ve also made some important changes to the program in an effort foster equitable access for organizations and projects of all sizes, and we’re accepting applications now.

The CCC program is centered on the belief that arts and cultural activities are imperative to healthy communities and that artists are central activators who can manifest positive change and foster vibrant, peaceful neighborhoods. Investing in creative placemaking is about cultivating safe, healthy, livable, vibrant places – creative communities that are as structurally sound as they are creatively welcoming.

What is creative placemaking?

Creative placemaking is a big, complex concept that positions artists and arts organizations at the center of community development strategies. Simply put, creative placemaking utilizes artists and arts and culture activities to make a place better. Our friend Jamie Bennett, the Executive Director of ArtPlace America and the ambassador-guru-champion of creative placemaking , wrote a great blog last year explaining the concept. Taking a cue from that piece, here are the basic elements of creative placemaking in our CCC grant program:

  1. A place-based orientation: creative placemaking happens in a definable place – a block, neighborhood, community, town, or city – where people live, work, and play
  2. A need, desire, issue, or priority to be addressed, one that is identified by the people that live, work and play in a place
  3. Artists/creatives and their processes are at the center of activities addressing the issue
  4. Cross-sector partners commit to addressing the issue through creativity and the arts – artists and arts organizations work with developers, government agencies, health care institutions, engineering firms, etc. – to create change
  5. Progress in addressing the issue is measureable and assessed through the lifecycle of the project

Projects funded through our CCC program extend beyond the walls of arts organizations and fully embrace a comprehensive community-engaged process.

What does successful creative placemaking look like?

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The National Endowment for the Arts just published a comprehensive book, How to Do Creative Placemaking, with examples of successful creative placemaking projects from across the country.

Here in California, successful CCC grantee projects are as diverse as the state itself. In the rural Tahoe region, Trails and Vistas is partnering with the Donner Land Trust on a series of events to raise awareness about open space and to promote trail use in one of California’s fragile but most beloved outdoor environments (pictured above). A Reason To Survive (ARTS) is addressing nutrition and food deserts in National City, using artists to create a health-focused gathering space in an affordable housing complex and to help redesign small neighborhood food markets to meet CA healthy food standards. StartSoCo in Sonoma County is working with the Sonoma County Community Development Commission to infuse arts and cultural activities and creative use into the redevelopment plans for a vacant shopping center.

Common elements in all of these projects include:

  • Applicants, partners and artists with deep experience in the community
  • Organic partnerships built over time and based in shared goals or missions and that extend beyond the scope of the immediate project
  • Projects using existing assets within the community

How has the CCC program changed?

 There are a few major changes to the program guidelines this year based on feedback that we received.

  • Recognizing that real change takes time, this program now has a 2-year grant period beginning this year. CCC projects can occur from June 2017 through June 2019.
  • In an effort to be equitable to organizations and projects of all sizes, we have split the program into two categories based on organizational budget. Smaller organizations (with annual income under $750,000) will compete for funding with organizations of a similar size, and the same goes for larger organizations.
  • Creative placemaking projects can succeed at any scale, but projects shouldn’t drain an organization’s resources in an unsustainable way. To that end, organizations cannot apply for more than 20% of their annual operating income.

We’ve evaluated and refined the CCC program based on the most up-to-date research and thought leadership on creative placemaking. We recognize that not all arts projects fall under the goals of creative placemaking, even large-scale projects. If your project does not meet all five criteria listed above, another one of our grant program guidelines might be right for your project. But, if this type of work sounds like a good fit for your organization’s community goals, check out the complete details and guidelines on our website and join our programs team for a CCC webinar on January 19, 2017 at 11 am. March 6, 2017 is the deadline to apply.


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Shelly Gilbride
is the Programs Officer at the California Arts Council. She can be reached at shelly.gilbride@arts.ca.gov.

Featured Photo: First Voice, San Francisco