Blog bite: The power of poetry

Online news source Circa put the spotlight on poetry this week, publishing a story that called out the work of Street Poets Inc. The L.A.-based California Arts Council grantee has a firm grasp on both rhyme and reason: Dedicated to transforming the lives of at-risk and incarcerated youth, the organization inspires its participants to find their voices through the art of poetry and chart a new course toward a better future.

Street Poets Inc. is funded in part by the California Arts Council JUMP StArts grant program, supporting arts education and artist-in-residence programs for youth engaged in the juvenile justice system, in the classroom, after school, or as a social service or in an incarceration setting.

We’re proud to support the work of Street Poets Inc.! Read the full story here and check out the video below:

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This week in arts funding

It’s been a busy and exciting week in the world of arts funding!

On Tuesday morning, the California Arts Council made what is arguably our biggest announcement of the year: more than $15 million dollars to be distributed among 1,076 grantees! We increased maximum grant request amounts within many of our programs and expanded our arts education grant programs to reach students outside the classroom. We also funded grantees through three new pilot programs this year: Reentry through the Arts, Research in the Arts, and Arts and Public Media.

Award totals were nearly double that of last year, and mark the largest investment in grants for the Arts Council since 2003. No small achievement!

We will admit, it’s our favorite time of year. It’s the culmination of all of our efforts here at the CAC. To be able to share the news, congratulate all of our grantees, then sit back and put the spotlight on the great work they’ll do locally with the state’s support—fostering art and creativity, shaping our communities, inspiring and informing.

Right away, our social media started lighting up with giddy grantees and appreciative art supporters. We love it, and we love our grantees!

We were still floating high on that cloud when, the very next morning, another big reveal: this time from the National Endowment for the Arts. The federal agency announced its second round of funding for the 2017 fiscal year, including $5.3 million for 162 grantees in the state of California. More than $1.1 million will provide support directly to the California Arts Council.

NEA funding has a massive impact on California communities, not just through direct contributions to arts organizations in the form of grants, but through its intrinsic value. The power of an NEA grant can attract matching funds and spur economic interest through other means.

And the NEA as a leader and partner is, of course, invaluable to us at the Arts Council. The annual grant we receive supports the fulfillment of our strategic plan, provides additional funds to our grantees, and helps California’s overall creative economy thrive.

A huge thank you to the NEA, and a whopping congratulations to state and federal grantees!

(Pictured: The Regional Organization of Oaxaca in Los Angeles will receive a California Arts Council grant to produce a series of workshops celebrating the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. The organization also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.)

Blog bite: Shakespeare at work in Solano State Prison

A quick shout-out to one of our Arts in Corrections providers, the Marin Shakespeare Company! Yesterday, CNN’s Great Big Story highlighted the theater group’s work with inmates, helping them to confront emotions and heal through self-expression, channeling their own life stories through Hamlet.

Arts in Corrections is a partnership between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the California Arts Council to combat recidivism, enhance rehabilitative goals, and improve the safety and environment of state prisons.  The program has reached more than 2,000 inmates since its return three years ago, and is expanding this year to all 35 institutions statewide.

Check out the clip of Marin Shakespeare Company’s great work below: