Fact vs. Fiction: Government Arts Funding

This morning, President Trump submitted his administration's first budget request to Congress. The proposal calls for an elimination of all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in fiscal year 2018. If this budget is enacted, the elimination of the NEA would have dire consequences for every state, especially California where the NEA awarded nearly $9 million in direct grants in 2016.

Guest post authored by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA). Click here to view a PDF of this national arts advocacy resource at www.nasaa-arts.org. 

A vigorous democracy periodically debates the role of government and the ways the public sector can best support the prosperity and well-being of its citizens. When those questions turn to the role of government in supporting the arts, make sure the discussion is fueled by the facts!

Fiction: Eliminating the arts will help the government balance its budget.

FACT: The arts return $22.3 billion in revenue to federal, state, county and municipal governments. A strong arts sector makes it easier for our government to balance its books.

Fiction: Cutting government arts programs will save a lot of money.

FACT: The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) receives a mere 0.004% of the total federal budget, less than 1/2 of one hundredth of one percent. Appropriations to state arts agencies constitute just 0.04% of state general funds expenditures, less than one half of one tenth of one percent. Arts cuts will harm communities without achieving real savings.

Fiction: All Republicans want to cut the arts.

FACT: The last time a Republican President occupied the White House (2001-2008), federal appropriations to the NEA increased by $40 million. Republicans held the majority in both houses of Congress for four of those eight years. Support for the arts is pan-partisan. Republicans and Democrats alike have track records of supporting the arts because they know it’s wise economic policy and is popular with constituents.

Fiction: Government support for the arts primarily benefits the urban elite.

FACT: Government arts support ensures that rural communities and low-income groups get their fair share of the educational and economic benefits offered by the arts. 40% of NEA-supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods. While 15% of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, more than 25% of all state arts agency grants go to these communities.

Fiction: Arts organizations are dependent on public dollars.

FACT: Government funding is typically a small slice of the funding pie. For instance, funding from state arts agencies composes only 2.1% of total grantee revenue (source: NASAA analysis of annual statistical reports). However, these small investments pack a big punch: arts organizations use public dollars to generate earned income, secure private contributions and leverage local matching funds. Every $1 of NEA support leverages $9 in matching funds.

Fiction: The private sector will pick up the bill if government arts funding is cut.

FACT: A solely private funding model would leave many American communities behind. Philanthropic giving in the United States is geographically disproportional: rural areas receive only 5.5% of all grant making, a figure that has declined over time. It takes a mixture of both public and private funds to realize the full power of the arts for all Americans.


NASAA is the membership organization serving America’s state and jurisdictional arts agencies. They are a national, not-for-profit, nonpartisan association that provides research, advocacy, training and networking for state arts agencies and their constituents. Their work is evidence-driven and grounded in the principles that the arts are essential to a thriving democracy and that the public, private and nonprofit sectors all have vital roles to play in American success. To learn more, visit www.nasaa-arts.org.

Pictured above: Pasadena Conservatory of Music receives arts education grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council to support arts education programming Title I schools.

Guest Post: They Call It Legacy

By Donn K. Harris, Chair of the California Arts Council and Executive Director, ArtsCenter, San Francisco Unified School District

Perhaps it’s our age, and I won’t out my esteemed colleague and friend Craig Watson here, but I am sixty-one years old, and the word legacy seems to be cropping up everywhere these days. It’s often used to describe someone’s motivation for an act they committed, as in, ‘They’re thinking about their legacy.’ Few of us get the luxury to to do that, as the world swirls by at such a hectic pace that we’re lucky if we get to the end of our time with an organization and can stop and breathe for a minute and say: ‘That was a good time. We left our mark.’

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Donn Harris and Craig Watson at the State Capitol.

Craig Watson, the Director of the California Arts Council for the past 5 ½ years,  who is leaving the agency effective March 31, has left his mark.

He  has left it on all of us who have worked with him. He has left his mark on the California Arts Council itself, on California – and on the United States. That’s not coming from me. No less an authority on the national arts scene than Barry Hessenius placed Craig Watson on the 2015 list of the 50 Most Powerful and Influential Leaders in the Nonprofit Arts in America. That in itself is a legacy-maker, and here are some of the factors that went into Craig being placed on that prestigious list:

  • The agency’s budget, counting all revenue streams, went from $5 million in 2013 to almost $25 million in 2017. That’s a quintupled infusion, and the way the CAC was able to craft new programs and hire staff and keep the back office sane is a testament to teamwork and good administration. 
  • The new programs themselves – for veterans, independent artists, large-scale partnerships, cultural districts, public media, juvenile justice, adult incarceration facilities, turnaround arts schools, Common Core education initiatives, the support of newly formed cultural organizations, and research projects – represent almost a tripling of program offerings – a staggering feat. The breadth of the new arts programs, their visibility and influence, is unmistakable. From food and dishware artistry in the north to youth photography programs on the Mexican border, the CAC has become more than relevant – we’re the creative lifeline for many communities. 
  • If any time an artist puts a brush to canvas or a bow to strings represents a statement of sorts, any leader in a state as large as California would have a hard time pointing to a theme or a unifying principle to the work produced. Given that, the thematic coherence to the last four years of arts production funded by the CAC is impressive, and reflective of our state’s priorities:
      • Work extolling our bounteous natural resources and physical beauty: …with many projects having to do with water conservation, also valued by the governor. The artistic Renaissance surrounding the restored channels of the LA River is only one example of this significant movement; the Santa Cruz River walk is another, and the Mokelumne (90% of Oakland’s drinking water!) was the basis for a 2014 Amador County Arts grant. 
      • Partnerships and collective action: Creative California Communities, Cultural Pathways, Cultural Districts – the power of the individual becomes an exponential factor in these well-crafted programs. Our State and Local Partnership Network puts the County Arts agencies in charge of their local creative product. 
      • Social Justice and Equitable Outcomes: Arts in Corrections, Juvenile Justice, Artists in Schools, Veterans in the Arts: a clear theme of compassion, vision and a brighter future. Almost all of our grants go to low-budget organizations, many are store-front non-profits, making the CAC the main supporter of grassroots arts activity in the state – keeping traditions alive and starting new ones.

In 5 ½ years, building on a strong but underfunded and understaffed base, Craig went about the business of carefully reconstructing a framework and a culture that had been worn down by economic difficulties and competing priorities.  When a $2 million one-time windfall came to the CAC for the 2014 cycle through the efforts of Council members, the signal that the Council was roaring back became clear. New programs emerged, new energies were unleashed, and that was followed by a significant increase to our base funding, and then more one-time funds. Barely able to appreciate the accomplishments, Staff and Council worked tirelessly to do right by California and to exemplify the vision of the Governor and the Legislature with an artistic output and collective action worthy of the State of California.

When Craig’s final day comes about at the end of this month, we will not be saying goodbye to our colleague and friend. His influence, his deft hand at all matters sensitive and subtle, the fantastically talented and devoted staff he has brought on to serve us for decades to come – these will be constant reminders of what Craig accomplished on our behalf. And his vision will surely surface in other ways: the arts community in California will pull him back for something.

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Donn Harris and Craig Watson with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and NEA Chair Jane Chu at Youth Radio in Oakland.

I was fortunate enough to work with Craig for three years beginning in my first Council term, with two years serving as the Chair of the 11-member Council. We are not an easy bunch, and Craig handled us deftly. He got what he could out of each of us, and had his tenure been longer he would have elevated us even more. We traveled together, made decisions together, expanded the reach of our message, stumbled through a challenge or two, learned from each other (more me from him), and have come to this place where a transition is in the making. We will have time to reflect and celebrate. We will have time to close out this chapter and to appreciate the accomplishments that took place with Craig at the helm.

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CAC Council and Staff selfie from a recent planning retreat.

In closing, I would like to pay Craig Watson the ultimate compliment. Always in the limelight, with every action scrutinized, analyzed, critiqued from angles that were so unique and unexpected that we were often in amazement if not shock, Craig managed to maintain grace under intense pressure, kindness when others may have offered something less than that, cool professionalism when many would have retreated or overreacted. And behind closed doors, when discussions were necessarily private or confidential, when so often we hear the preface: ‘Off the record . . .’ followed by some not-for-prime-time statement, I can unequivocally say that Craig Watson never headed in that direction. What he said in those moments was the same thing he would have said had he been at a podium before hundreds of people. It’s called doing the right thing – a rarity these days.

Leaving on his own terms, taking his time to wind down and prepare the CAC for his successor, able to appreciate the accolades that will come his way – we should all move on so gracefully. Even in his departure, Craig Watson has set an example for us, and we could do no better than to appreciate his tenure, celebrate his time as our state arts leader, and be inspired by a man who can say to himself, “job well done,” and know that we agree with him fully.


donn_harrisDonn K. Harris is the Chair of the California Arts Council and Executive Director, ArtsCenter, San Francisco Unified School District.

Ten Grant Programs Accepting Applications Now

As California’s state arts agency, we invest in California-based organizations via competitive grant programs, administered through a multi-step public process.

This week, we began accepting applications for five additional grant programs: Arts & Public Media, JUMP StArts, Research in the Arts, and Veterans Initiative in the Arts; plus our Accessibility Grant, made available through our partnership with the National Arts & Disability Center.

You might have heard the great news… as a result of increased state arts funding, we expect to award as many as 1,000 grants this fiscal year — that’s more than triple the number of grants awarded annually in the past!

Program details including availability, application deadlines, guidelines, and more can be found via the grant program links below and at http://arts.ca.gov/programs/.

Open Grant Programs

The California Arts Council is accepting applications for the following grant programs as of 1/18/2017:

ACCESSIBILITY GRANT PARTNERSHIP: Enhancing opportunities for participation in the arts by people with disabilities

ARTISTS ACTIVATING COMMUNITIES: Up to $18,000 for artist residencies in community settings.

ARTISTS IN SCHOOLS: Up to $18,000 supporting students’ overall well-being and academic achievement through arts engagement. New categories offered this year supporting PreK, field trips, afterschool and summer programs!

ARTS & PUBLIC MEDIA:  Up to $15,000 to support nonprofit media coverage of and engagement with arts and culture in California.

CREATIVE CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES: Up to $50,000 a year for small and mid-sized organizations and up to $75,000 a year for large organizations to support collaborative creative placemaking projects. Now a two-year grant program!

JUMP STARTS:  Up to $30,000 for collaborative arts education projects for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

LOCAL IMPACT: Up to $18,000 for arts projects in underserved communities.

RESEARCH IN THE ARTS:  Up to $50,000 to support original research on the value and impact of the arts led by California-based researchers.

STATEWIDE AND REGIONAL NETWORKS: Up to $30,000 to support culturally-specific, multicultural, and discipline-based statewide and regional arts networks and service organizations.

VETERANS INITIATIVE IN THE ARTS:  Up to $10,000 for arts projects for veteran communities.

Spread the Word

Offering a record number of grants means that we’re seeking a record number of applicants! This year we hope many organizations new to the California Arts Council family will consider applying for a grant, and we need your help to spread the word about the many opportunities for state arts funding. Here’s a flyer we encourage you to share. Complete details on open programs and upcoming deadlines can be found on our website at http://arts.ca.gov/programs/.

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

Announcing a Major Expansion of our Arts Education Grant Offerings

By Josy Miller, Arts Education Program Specialist, California Arts Council

The California Arts Council is thrilled to announce that we are now accepting applications for the 2016-17 Artists in Schools grant program! Due to an increased investment by the Governor and the Legislature this year, we’ve been able to craft a major expansion of our arts education funding opportunities, including new grants to support dedicated afterschool and summer programs, field trips and assemblies, and early childhood arts learning.

A longstanding investment in California’s young people

Initiated in 1976, the Artists in Schools (AIS) program is one of our longest standing grant programs. For forty years, our Council has invested in school-based residency programs that offer high quality arts education to California students by California teaching artists. In many cases, these programs have been the sole opportunity for students to experience dedicated arts learning at school. The Artists in Schools program underscores the critical role the arts play in students’ development of creativity, overall well-being, and academic achievement.

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Current AIS grantees include San Diego’s Malashock Dance, whose Math in Motion program teaches students dance technique and choreography using mathematical concepts as tools. The City of San Fernando’s Mariachi Masters Apprentice program connects Grammy Award-winning musicians with underserved middle school students, incorporating artistic and historical instruction to preserve traditional mariachi music. Luna Kids Dance not only implements comprehensive K-5 dance education programs in multiple Oakland public schools, they offer a Professional Development program for classroom teachers in order to extend the impact of the teaching artist residencies.

Click here to see descriptions of all our current Artists in Schools grantees!

Growing resources, growing support

Last year, we awarded more than $1.3 million in grants to 144 organizations that employed 580 teaching artists to provide arts education to more than 43,000 California school children in grades K – 12. When notice came of the increased investment in CAC programs this year, our Council stood by the desire of the Legislature and of California residents to “improve the state of arts education in California schools,” articulated as a top priority in the agency’s statewide listening tour in 2013. This year, our Council approved an additional $400,000 in grant funding to support the arts education expansion, bringing our investment to upwards of $1.7 million for the new grant cycle.

What’s new?

This expansion will increase support for arts education in a number of ways. First, the maximum grant award for organizations operating school residencies through the AIS Engagement program will increase from $12,000 to $18,000, significantly extending the capacity of these programs.

Secondly, while the Artists in Schools program has historically focused its funding on in-school residencies, the new AIS Extension grant program will support afterschool and summer arts education opportunities, both in community settings and on school campuses.

Additionally, the new AIS Exposure program will provide support for arts organizations to perform or present at school assemblies, and to host field trips to professional arts venues. While the CAC certainly maintains its commitment to and belief in sustained, sequential arts education, many of us also remember the first time we experienced professional-caliber art – in a theater, in a recital hall, in a museum, or with a guest appearing in our very own classroom. And for many of us, our lifelong, passionate commitments to the arts are a direct result of those first tastes of its transformative power. The Exposure program will assist the world-class arts organizations of California in providing these opportunities to thousands of young people this year.

Last – but absolutely not least – as part of the arts education expansion, we are extending our support to programs that work with our youngest Californians. All of this year’s programs will be open to application by organizations that provide arts education to children in their first five years of life (PreK). A growing body of research demonstrates that many of the most egregious and irreparable contributors to achievement gaps have already been established by the time children enter kindergarten. The California Arts Council is determined to support arts from the outset, and to do our part to ensure the benefits of arts-rich lives to each and every Californian.

The California Arts Council and our staff are delighted to share news of these expanded opportunities and hope that you will visit the Artists in Schools landing page on our website for more information and to apply!

Make sure to join us for a live webinar on December 8th, 2016 at 11AM PST, when the programs staff will review the goals of the Artists in Schools program, the requirements of the various funding strands, and the application process. Please register for the webinar here.

And remember, Artists in Schools is just one of fourteen grant programs we’re offering this year! Be sure to check out the full lineup of opportunities.


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Josy Miller
is the Arts Education Program Specialist at the California Arts Council. She can be reached at josy.miller@arts.ca.gov.

Top photo: Cal Arts Community Arts Partnership
Center photo: P.S. ARTS

Giving Back to Those Who Served

California is home to nearly 2 million Veterans – more than any other state – accounting for 8.3% of our nation’s veterans. Our Council prioritizes the needs of veterans, and has seen firsthand how engagement with the arts and creative expression can benefit the quality of life for those who have served our country, and their families.

Soon entering its third year, our Veterans Initiative in the Arts grant program is uniquely designed to support nonprofit arts organizations, local arts agencies, and veterans’ assistance agencies ability to serve veterans, active military, and their families through local arts programming. This year, we supported 33 projects and invested more than $300,000 through these grants.

The work of our grantees is making a difference in communities across California. Today we’re proud to showcase a few stories illustrating the power of arts and creative expression to support, encourage, and in some cases, heal, our former servicemen and women.

DIAVOLO – Architecture in Motion

Currently, DIAVOLO dance company is offering Los Angeles Veterans a one-of-a-kind immersive dance experience. After nine DIAVOLO movement workshops for Veterans, the company chose eight Veterans to be a part of their engagement experience. During a period of four months, these eight individuals rehearse at a professional dance studio three times a week under the direction of DIAVOLO Artistic Director, Jacques Heim, and Institute Director, Dusty Alvarado. DIAVOLO company dancers are also present, offering a true, professional dance company experience.

diavoloDuring these rehearsals, the eight Veterans are trained, educated, and encouraged to create material that allows them to express themselves in new ways. The final product of these rehearsals is a showing of a piece, but the process of getting to that point is at the core of this program.

Chris was active duty in Iraq 10 years ago. Following his service, he joined the Los Angeles Police Department. He has since then resigned on medical leave. Constantly struggling with PTSD, he has sought after doctors and therapists. After two weeks in our studio, Chris called Institute Director, Dusty Alvarado and said, “I’ve never felt more calm and more at peace in the past 10 years than when I am dancing with you guys.”

Alvarado shared that the entire organization of DIAVOLO has become a part of this experience. “The Veteran participants see this, are honored by it, and take even greater pride in the work they are doing here. We are showing up and saying ‘this is important to us. We want to highlight you guys in the best way we know how… through dance.’ We have created a safe place for these individuals where their voices can be heard.” Alvarado hopes this place helps them feel more grounded and more comfortable as they work on making the transition into civilian life.

The work of DIAVOLO is known to be intense, highly athletic, and daring. They are considered “warriors of dance.” Alvarado shared, “It only made sense that we would one day work with Veterans—intense, athletic, daring individuals. We did not take it easy on our Veterans. We pushed them past their own limits to what only we knew they could achieve.”

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

For several years, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) has implemented ArtOASIS, a program supporting the recovery of military personnel from the symptoms of combat-related stress. The partnership joins MCASD with Combat Arts San Diego to serve more than 75 active duty troops each year who are enrolled in the Overcoming Adversity and Stress Injury Support (OASIS) program of the Naval Medical Center San Diego.

mcasdCombat-related stress is an issue of great concern for the social and economic health of San Diego County—home to the largest concentration of military personnel and their families in the nation. Through ArtOASIS, more than 75 active-duty military enrolled in the OASIS Program at the Naval Medical Center experience regular outings to the calming environment and gardens of the Museum, evidence-based recreational therapy rooted in the arts, and the opportunity to have their artwork displayed in the museum galleries.

Education Curator Cris Scorza shares that ArtOASIS teaching artists have witnessed service members giving substance and voice to feelings and thoughts through different artistic media with positive effects. “The art classes provide a relaxed, non-clinical environment where they can relax and talk as peers. The art making process itself gives them the ability to control, articulate and externalize their negative experiences in a constructive way.”

Cris has seen personnel who have come into the program with prior art experience who have flourished in that setting, as well as personnel without any prior experience be surprised at how beneficial the creative process is. One special case was Carl, who at the beginning of his participation Carl was withdrawn. In his military service, Carl made bombs and received many awards for this skill. But in his time in treatment, he began to wonder how this skill would serve him in the future. Many of the participants shared this anxiety. What will follow military service? How will they restructure their lives? Responding to such questions was an essential aspect of the program.

sdmcaAs the teaching artists began to connect with Carl and showed him that they believed in his ability to have a future after the military, he began to gain confidence. Toward the end of the project, Carl was asking questions about drawing and writing as an option for his future and for sharing his story. He became excited about developing new skills. The art practice was just a vehicle for conversation. The true outcomes of this project were the personal connections the troops and artists developed, which allowed them to open up about nurturing innate talent, sharing personal narratives, and planning for civilian life.

As an added component, one OASIS graduate is serving as a teaching assistant with the mentoring of ArtOASIS teaching artists. He teaches from a place that is collegial with an understanding of the military approach. He has introduced tool-based art making to the new participants—a method that is both familiar and highly empathetic. ArtOASIS will continue to support graduates becoming teaching assistants as a way of demonstrating that both art and teaching are viable careers as service men and women transfer to the civilian world. ArtOASIS teaching assistants are paid an hourly rate and can translate the skills and teaching experience acquired in the position to work in other settings.

Yuba Sutter Arts

In the town of Marysville,  veterans and local artists collaborated to create a large-scale, community art installation telling the story of the veteran experience:

Alameda County Arts Commission

With California Arts Council support, the Alameda County Arts Commission is providing a series of art activities integrated into events and counseling groups at the Oakland Vet Center that serves Alameda County Veterans. The goals are to provide Veterans with opportunities to express themselves in a supportive environment, develop art making skills, engage in community building, and strengthen partner and family bonds. The project includes displays at veteran service and civic venues.

Program Coordinator Violet Juno feels this work is important because there is such strong positive response from the Veterans community about incorporating art and the creative process into their services. “The Veterans, their readjustment counselors and Veteran service organization staff are very interested in partnering together to explore how the arts can support Veterans in their readjustment journey,” Violet shared. “This project creates a way for the Alameda County Arts Commission to provide support and expertise to this important part of our local community.”

Veterans participating in the program share that they find art making to be meditative, healing and empowering. One female Veteran participated in a workshop with her two teenage children and shared “We liked this. It’s therapeutic! We’d like to do it again.” Another young female Veteran added that “this art experience helps me get out of my comfort zone, meet people, and try new things.” And some participants have enjoyed using personal strengths from their military service in the art making process. “I like the teamwork needed for this project. I like the camaraderie and seeing what we can accomplish together,” a male Veteran, age 67 shared.


Our 2017 Veterans Initiative in the Arts program will open for applications on January 18, 2017. Click here to learn more about the program.

Storytelling: Essential to the Human Spirit

Today, we’re proud to release the findings of an extensive evaluation of our support of nonprofit media organizations, specifically as it relates to arts and culture coverage and related projects. The report, Nonprofit Media Coverage of the Arts in California: Challenges and Opportunities, is the first of its kind — assessing the status of California nonprofit media organizations’ engagement with arts and culture, and the funding of such activities.

Foreword: Nonprofit Media Coverage of the Arts in California

By Caitlin Fitzwater, Communications Director, California Arts Council

Storytelling is essential to the human spirit. Stories move us, but beyond that they inspire action, deepen understanding, build bridges, and foster change. Storytelling, arts, and culture go hand in hand.

Public media is a key source through which storytelling is made available to all. With no cost for consumption, a radio can be all one needs to be transported and to stay informed. At its best, public media is embedded in communities, fostering the sharing of stories that are authentic to local cultures.

The California Arts Council, our state arts agency, recognizes these contributions as vital to California’s cultural ecosystem. Perhaps that’s why public media emerged as a grantmaking priority in 2013 when a one- time infusion of new state arts funding allowed our Council to “dream big” for the first time in a decade. Seeking to utilize one-time funding for programs that could show significant impact, the California Arts Council developed the Arts on the Air public media program.

KQED - KQED Producer Matthew Williams films artist Wendy MacNaughton at her drawing table.JPGThis pilot grant program was a high priority for the Council. But key to a productive investment is ensuring that grants are effectively serving the field and meeting the actual needs of California’s communities. After all, there’s little point in investing in something if you’re not getting it right. This is precisely why our Council prioritizes evaluation. Rigorous assessment takes many different forms, and in the case of our investment in public media, we wanted to discern, not assume, the true needs of the field. We wanted to deepen our knowledge of public media in California today as part of our assessment, and to foster new relationships along the way. That is why, after two years, the Council suspended the pilot program for a year to evaluate its effectiveness and impact.

In this case, our central evaluation activity was the convening of a California Arts and Public Media Summit in Oakland on June 23,2016. The field participated in the summit robustly and enthusiastically. And the project yielded great results: networking opportunities, relationship building, this report – and perhaps most importantly, better informed programming decisions for the California Arts Council. The public process has always been central to our work, but it is increasingly critical as we develop new programs with growing state arts funding resources. Public input is in our DNA as government funders. It is a crucial vehicle for involving all Californians in the investment of public resources.

The following report contains a summary of activities and input from public media experts and thought leaders across our state and the nation. We express our deepest thanks to all who participated. While this report is indeed informing the work of our Council right now, it’s not just for us. We hope the findings will be a helpful resource and conversation starter for all parties who are invested in the success of the public media field and its engagement with California’s cultural communities. Perhaps it goes without saying, but times are changing – and staying in touch with those doing the work on the ground is paramount to any funder or stakeholder’s success.

Our Council is embracing the evolution of our programs, welcoming change, and capitalizing on the realities of doing good work in a 21st-century California. We are all excited for what’s to come, and are grateful to have continual opportunities to build our knowledge together with our state’s vibrant and diverse communities.



aaeaaqaaaaaaaalaaaaajgrinjc1zjm4ltk3oditngy4ms1imtg0lwuzzmq3ndczztljywCaitlin Fitzwater
is the Communications Director for the California Arts Council, a position she has held since June 2013. Previously, in New York City, Caitlin served as the marketing manager for New York Public Radio, developing campaigns for nationally beloved radio programs including Radiolab and Studio 360. She also managed marketing efforts for the Public Theater and Playwrights Horizons Theater. Caitlin was a 2012-13 Executive Fellow at the Devos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC. She can be reached at caitlin.fitzwater@arts.ca.gov.

Photo Credits: Documania and KQED Arts

Our “Grant Season” is Officially Underway!

UPDATED NOVEMBER 16, 2016

It’s the most wonderful time, of the year! And no, we’re not talking about the holiday season…

As of today, six of our grant programs are now open for applications — with eight more opening in the near future. As a result of increased state arts funding, this year we’ll award more grants than we have in 13 years as we support projects in fourteen unique grant programs. In fact, we may award as many as 1,000 grants this fiscal year… that’s more than triple the number of grants awarded annually in the past! 

The California Arts Council invests in California nonprofit organizations via competitive grant programs, administered through a multistep public process. Program details including availability, application deadlines, guidelines, and more can be found at http://arts.ca.gov/programs/.

 

Do you want to make a difference in your community? Do you want to build and grow a sustainable organization? Do you want to give back through culture and creative expression? Well, at the California Arts Council, we’re here to help!

Open Programs

Learn about all our grant programs at http://arts.ca.gov/programs/. The following grant programs are currently accepting applications as of 11/16/2016. 

ARTISTS ACTIVATING COMMUNITIES: Up to $18,000 for artist residencies in community settings.

ARTISTS IN SCHOOLS: Up to $18,000 supporting students’ overall well-being and academic achievement through arts engagement. New categories offered this year! 

CREATIVE CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES: Up to $50,000 a year for small and mid-sized organizations and up to $75,000 a year for large organizations to support collaborative creative placemaking projects. Now a two-year grant program!

LOCAL IMPACT: Up to $18,000 for arts projects in underserved communities.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND CONSULTING: $1,000–$5,000 for capacity-building professional development or consulting projects for arts organizations.

STATEWIDE AND REGIONAL NETWORKS: Up to $30,000 to support culturally-specific, multicultural, and discipline-based statewide and regional arts networks and services organizations.

Sign-up for our Informational Webinar

Join us for an informational webinar on Thursday, December 1st when we’ll provide an overview of all of the California Arts Council’s 2016-17 grant programs, highlighting some changes and new additions to our grant offerings. Our programs staff will review the application process, provide some tips for grant writing success, and answer questions from the public. Click here to register.

Spread the Word

Offering a record number of grants means that we’re seeking a record number of applicants! This year we hope many organizations new to the California Arts Council family will consider applying for a grant, and we need your help to spread the word about the many opportunities for state arts funding. Here’s a flyer we encourage you to share. Complete details on open programs and upcoming deadlines can be found on our website at http://arts.ca.gov/programs/.