Gearing up for grant season

(Updated January 23, 2018)

The CAC grant season is officially underway! Channel your excitement into a successful application by checking out the host of webinars we have coming up (or check out the video for any you’ve missed)! Plus, we’ve got tutorials and tips guaranteed to bring out your inner grant writing guru.


We’re offering four webinars to guide you through our grant programs and process. Sign up now!

Tuesday, December 5, 1:00 p.m. – Archived video available now!
Informational Webinar: Apply for a California Arts Council Grant

This grants webinar will give an overview of the California Arts Council’s 2017-18 grant programs, highlighting some changes and new additions to our grant offerings. The programs staff will review the application process, provide some tips for grant writing success, and answer questions from the public.

Tuesday, December 12, 11:00 a.m. – Archived video available now: JUMP StArtsReentry Through the Arts
Grants for Arts and Justice – JUMP StArts and Reentry Through the Arts

Programs Officer Shelly Gilbride, Ph.D. will give an overview of the CAC JUMP StArts and Reentry Through the Arts grant programs that focus on arts programming for people who are currently or formerly incarcerated This webinar will highlight program similarities and differences, as well as changes to the guidelines from the previous grant cycles and new partnership opportunities. Organizations that are already engaged in the work, as well as those just beginning to cultivate partnerships, are encouraged to attend! 

Tuesday, December 19, 11:00 a.m. Archived video available now!
Arts Education Grant Opportunities at the California Arts Council

Arts Education Program Specialist Josy Miller, Ph.D. hosts a webinar dedicated to the four arts education grant strands at the CAC: Extension, Exposure, Artists in Schools, and Professional Development. In addition to becoming informed about the distinctions between each grant strand, and which proposals are the best fit for each program, participants will and have the opportunity to pose specific questions about eligibility, application content, budget requirements, and project structure.

Tuesday, January 16, 11:00 a.m. – Archived video available now!
California Arts Council Cultural Pathways Grant Program Informational Webinar

Arts Program Specialist Jason Jong hosts an informational webinar about the CAC’s Cultural Pathways grant program for small and emerging organizations rooted in communities of color, recent immigrant and refugee communities, or tribal and indigenous groups. Jason will give an overview of the program including details on the application process, budget requirements and support materials needed.

Grant Writing Tips

But wait, there’s more! If after all those workshops and webinars, you’re still craving counsel, we’ve got a list of helpful tips to help your organization succeed with an exemplary application:

SmartSimple Tutorial

The California Arts Council has made the switch to a new grant management system, SmartSimple. True to its name, SmartSimple is the complete package—integrating the entire grant cycle, from application to panel review to contracts, final reports and invoicing! We’ve created a webpage featuring a tutorial video and other useful resources for using the SmartSimple platform:

Why we’re thankful for the arts – 4 benefits, many blogs

Without a doubt, the California Arts Council has plenty to be thankful for. We’re thankful to Gov. Brown and our state Legislature for valuing the arts. We’re thankful to our Council members, our staff, and our grantees for their tireless work. We’re thankful to arts advocates and donors to the Keep Arts in Schools Fund for their indelible contributions.

The list goes on … but without the arts themselves, we wouldn’t be here.

With that in mind this Thanksgiving season, we took a trip down memory lane, browsing this year’s previous blog entries, and found a cornucopia of examples of the power of the arts. Here are just a few of the reasons why we’re thankful:

1. The arts boost our economy.

2. The arts promote cultural awareness and understanding.

3. The arts teach.

4. The arts help to heal.


Happy Thanksgiving, from the California Arts Council family to you and yours.

(Photo credit: Center for World Music)

Grant season is here!

(Updated February 9, 2018)

Our “grant” opening has arrived! Details and links to program offerings are below.

State arts funding saw a significant permanent increase this year. Greater investment equals greater opportunity to meet the demand for arts and cultural experiences across California. This grant season stands a good chance of beating the number of grants awarded for the 2016-17 fiscal year—already more than we’ve awarded in more than a decade!

The California Arts Council invests in California nonprofit organizations and units of government via competitive grant programs, administered through a multistep public process. Program details including availability, application deadlines, guidelines, and more can be found at

Does your organization want to make a difference through culture and creative expression? The California Arts Council can help — it’s grant season!

Review Our Informational Webinar

To kick off the grant season in style, we hosted an informational webinar on opening day. Program staff provided an overview of the grant application process and highlighted some changes and new additions to our grant offerings, offered tips and answered questions. Not to worry, we’ve got the video for you in case you missed it!

Grant Programs

Discover all of the CAC’s grant opportunities at

ARTISTS IN COMMUNITIES: Up to $18,000 for artist residencies in community settings.
Deadline: January 23, 2018

ARTS EDUCATION – ARTISTS IN SCHOOLS: Up to $18,000 for collaborative arts education projects for students from infancy through Grade 12 taking place on school sites during the school day.
Deadline: March 22, 2018

ARTS EDUCATION – EXTENSION: Up to $18,000 for arts education projects for students from infancy through Grade 12 taking place after school or during the summer, either on school sites or in community settings.
Deadline: January 23, 2018

ARTS EDUCATION – EXPOSURE: Up to $18,000 for field trip and assembly support to expose students from infancy through Grade 12 to performances and exhibits.
Deadline: February 22, 2018

ARTS EDUCATION – PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: $2,500 to support arts integration training for classroom teachers facilitated by teaching artists.
Deadline: March 22, 2018

ARTS AND PUBLIC MEDIA:  Up to $18,000 to support the production and programming of multiplatform nonprofit media projects centered on the arts and culture in California.
Deadline: March 15, 2018

CULTURAL PATHWAYS: Up to $20,000 over two years to strengthen the capacity of small organizations rooted in communities of color, recent immigrant and refugee communities, and tribal or indigenous groups.
Deadline – extended!: February 23, 2018

JUMP STARTS: Up to $50,000 for collaborative arts education projects for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. New for 2018: Arts organizations may partner with State Division of Juvenile Justice facilities to apply for program funding.
Deadline – extended!: February 23, 2018

LOCAL IMPACT: Up to $18,000 for community-driven arts projects by small and mid-sized arts groups.
Deadline: March 8, 2018

ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Up to $5,000 for consulting projects to build capacity of arts organizations.
Deadline: March 1, 2018

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Up to $1,000 for access to professional development resources and networks to strengthen the business acumen of individuals employed by arts organizations.
January 10, 2018, 5:00 PM
Grant Period: February 1, 2018 – May 31, 2018 

March 1, 2018, 5:00 PM
Grant Period: June 1, 2018 – September 30, 2018

May 2, 2018, 5:00 PM
Grant Period: October 1, 2018 – January 31, 2019

REENTRY THROUGH THE ARTS: Up to $50,000 for arts projects supporting formerly incarcerated adults.
Deadline: March 22, 2018

STATEWIDE AND REGIONAL NETWORKS: Up to $30,000 to support statewide and regional arts service organizations that serve as networks for artists, constituent organizations, and cultural communities.
Deadline: February 7, 2018

VETERANS IN THE ARTS: Up to $18,000 for arts projects for veteran communities.
Deadline: March 1, 2018

Get the Word Out

The more, the merrier: We want to continue to grow our grantee family! We’re asking for your help to spread the news to would-be first-time applicants about the California Arts Council’s many opportunities for state arts funding. Share this flyer and encourage all to apply! Complete details on open programs and upcoming deadlines can be found on our website at

Honoring our veterans through arts programming

With Veterans Day just around the corner — a day dedicated to acknowledging as a nation the hard work, commitment, and sacrifices of our service men and women — we felt it appropriate that our latest blog be dedicated to our country’s veterans as well.

At the California Arts Council, we honor the veteran experience year-round, through our Veterans Initiative in the Arts (VIA) program. VIA is centered upon developing veterans’ creative expression by providing opportunities to be a part of arts programming tailored to their unique experiences. Veterans gain personal insight through the making of art, and help to cultivate a greater public understanding of those experiences through sharing their work.

We asked three of our VIA grantees to give us a glimpse into their projects and, in their own words, tell us what the experience has meant for them:

The PGK Dance Project

The PGK Dance Project aims to change society’s preconceived notions of who a veteran is. The contemporary dance company collaborated with veterans and working artists accomplished in painting, music, and spoken word to perform before live audiences. Military and family received free admission to the public performances.cac_blog_PGKProject

“Vets are not just the images and ideas we perceive but also people who, beyond their service, are artistic assets,” says artistic director Peter G. Kalivas. “These veterans protected our quality of life, and through the Veterans in the Arts program, they now help create the landscape and elevate the quality of arts and culture.”

Resounding Joy

Resounding Joy believes firmly in the power of music as medicine for those in all walks of life, veterans included. The organization’s Semper Sound program assists veterans with physical and psychological rehabilitation by enlisting music as a strategy for overcoming their obstacles.cac_blog_ResoundingJoy

“Music therapy isn’t only musicianship or music instruction,” says founder Barbara Reuer. “Therapists are trained on evidence-based techniques that help participants achieve their goals.”


“VetArt believes our Veterans have an important role to play in our communities,” says program developer and instructor Mark Jesinoski. “We use art-making to honor their service, to connect them with each other and to share their perspective and stories to the broader community.”

CAC’s support helps VetArt employ three veterans as sculpting artists, teaching introductory bronze casting courses to other active duty or retired military.

“When Veterans leave the military, they lose the sense of camaraderie that was part of their daily lives,” Jesinoski adds. “This project is designed to build peer support … it’s about connecting veterans with each other and their communities through art.”

Stay tuned: Guidelines and applications for next year’s VIA grant program will be available December 5.

P.S. Mark your calendar! These three grantees will be just a few of the organizations participating in an all-day arts and military event coming up on December 7. The Creative Forces Summit will explore the connection between creative arts therapies in patient-centered care at military clinical sites and community-based arts programs that allow patients to continue exploring art practices as part of their healing process.

If you’re in the San Diego region, join us and our national and local partners for this free event.


Arts Council Vice Chair shares poem on wildfires at NASAA Leadership Institute

At the California Arts Council, Council members and staff certainly aren’t limited to wearing only one hat when it comes to their relationship with the arts. Whether it’s dance, music, film, literature, visual or performing arts—creativity thrives here.

A recent moving example comes from our Council Vice Chair Nashormeh Lindo. Last month, while attending the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Leadership Institute in Portland, Lindo took the opportunity to represent our state by sharing a heartfelt poem she penned about the recent wildfires in Northern California. The text of the poem is below.

California Wildfires.17

They came, 
crept up on us,
in the middle of the night.
In darkness, CAWildfires17_byNashormehLindo
the Diablo Devil winds
fanned flames,
Sending spooky sparks
Ember imps, flying over hilltops and trees,
and skittering across roads, highways and boulevards.
Spreading mischief, conjuring up evil and
creating a haze of dry orange
smoky, choking air.
California dreams turned nightmarish.
It is unrelenting.
Everything is burning.
Words like, apocalyptic,
devastation, scary,
other worldly
come to mind.
It is the scorched Earth.
Come back to haunt us.
A desolate landscape is all that is left.
People, trees, homes, vineyards,

Days later while
Fleeing, in search of cleaner air
One can still see plumes of
terrifying toxic smoke
From the air.
The fires rage on.
It’s hard to breathe

I think of
Kingsolver’s words:

“The fire ran ahead at times, and sometimes flagged, as if growing tired like the rest of us. The heat was unspeakable.
I imagined the taste of water.”

California Arts Council Vice Chair Nashormeh Lindo
California Arts Council Vice Chair Nashormeh Lindo.

Dazed people gaze at each other;
and at their charred and ruined things,
after fleeing terror in the middle of the night,
and tracing the tracks of sooty tears,
Days, spent in evacuation despair.
Loss, exhaustion, raw grief and disbelief
makes us all equals.
Makes us care,

What will rise from these ashes?
Belief in Healing Hope.
The Courage to Create
To rebuild with the innate tools of
Music, Poetry, Dance,
Theater, Painting, Photography.
Mapping the path back,
to see beyond the seeming

Nashormeh Lindo
Portland, Oregon

(Excerpt from the Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver)

Blog bite: JUMP StArts gets a boost

The California Arts Council received a welcome mention last week in a piece on the power of arts participation for at-risk youth.

Online media outlet Youth Today tackled the topic of youth access to the arts, specifically those involved in the juvenile justice system. The article, “Arts Seen As Crucial to Healing Youth, Changing the Juvenile Justice System,” published on October 27, discusses the emergence of JUMP StArts, our grant program supporting arts programming for youth engaged in the juvenile justice system, in 2013, as a response to the growing belief in arts integration as an agent of change.

JUMP StArts received a recent budget increase of $750,000, testament to its value for youth in the system. Grant availability for the 2017-18 program will be announced shortly, so stay tuned! Get the story here—with a special nod to L.A.-based grantee Street Poets Inc.!

Top 3 Reasons to Be a California Arts Council Panelist

As winter approaches and 2017 draws to a close, the staff and council at the CAC are busy thinking ahead to next year! We’re on a quest for the best and the broadest minds in the field to serve on peer-review panels for our grant programs in the first half of 2018.

As an artist, arts administrator, policy maker or activist, that means you!

Here’s how it works: Each spring, applications to our grant programs are reviewed by a panel of three to five arts and culture experts. Panelists independently read and review between 30 and 60 applications via our online portal, then come to our offices in Sacramento—travel expenses paid—for one to three days to collaboratively rank applications. The rankings are brought to our Council members to inform funding decisions.

That’s the who/what/when and where for you. Now comes the why.

Why should you be a part of our panels? Here are the CAC’s top three reasons you should apply today:

1. It’s good for us.

This is the more obvious one, hence its place at the top of the list. No question, you’re doing us a solid by participating. We literally can’t do this without you. It’s crucial that grant application evaluation is unbiased, considered by groups with varied backgrounds, identities, and knowledge bases. Our conference room of panelists will ideally match the demographics of our state (minus nearly 40 million people, plus a dozen bagels).

2. It’s good for you.

Joining one of our panels isn’t just a benefit to us, there’s a major upside for you, too. It’s a fantastic opportunity to network with your peers in the field, to gain insight on a wide array of arts organizations while reviewing, to glean suggestions for your organizations over lunch. It’s also a great way to broaden your perspective on the arts in California, soaking up ideation and creativity; gaining exposure to different business models and leadership styles; gauging potential and community impact. Every learning is a chance to reignite and reinvigorate your own mission and values as part of the creative community. Don’t just take our word for it—this guest blog from one of last year’s panelists comes to the very same conclusions.

3. It’s good for California. 

When you help us to enrich the lives of those who live in our state by access to and participation in the arts, it’s a good thing. When you emerge newly inspired to do the same, it’s a good thing. When our grant applicants receive expert evaluation to ensure maximum benefit to their communities, it’s a good thing. Being a panelists is a win-win-win situation that leaves us all better off. Apply now!

A Message for Grantees and Artists Affected by the Wildfires

The California Arts Council is deeply saddened by the devastation caused by the multitude of wildfires currently burning in Northern California. To our grantees, artists and their communities; to families and businesses in the region; and to all those affected by these traumatic events: Our hearts are with you.

In the wake of continued evacuations and the governor’s emergency proclamation yesterday, we are requesting that all CAC grantees in Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Butte, Yuba, Nevada and Orange counties please check in with our Programs staff via phone or email if you have not done so already.

The California Arts Council website features a page of resources for artists affected by the fires, also listed below:

Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+): The Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+) has emergency relief grants and interest-free loans available for eligible artists working in craft disciplines. Guidelines and eligibility are available on the CERF+ website. The application process is quick and easy, with a rapid response of 2 weeks to give artists the help they need as soon as possible.

The Joan Mitchell Foundation: The Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Emergency Grant Program is available for visual artists who have suffered physical losses due to a natural disaster that relate to their artistic practice. Click here to learn more.

MusiCares: MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. A directory of resources for musicians and other artists is available on the MusiCares website.

CAL FIRE: The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is our state’s go-to resources for up-to-date wildfire information and resources.

Studio Protector: An artists guide to emergencies. A wealth of information on emergency readiness for all artists can be found at

A celebration of Arts in Education Week with grantee and guest blogger LA Phil

It’s National Arts in Education Week! What better time to call out the incredible work done by our grantees to fuel the creative minds of California’s youth?

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and its Youth Orchestra LA program became a California Arts Council grantee just this year. The award was made possible by a funding increase that allowed us to build upon our existing Artists in Schools program, taking arts education beyond the standard school day. The Extension branch of the Artists in Schools grant program awarded funding, for the first time, to arts programming held after school but off school premises, in the summer or in a community setting.

Below, Vice President of Educational Initiatives Gretchen Nielsen and recent YOLA graduate Josue May explain the program and its impact:

Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) is the signature education initiative of LA Phil Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, launched in 2007. YOLA offers after-school music instruction in three underserved Los Angeles neighborhoods: South L.A., the Rampart District, and East L.A.  The program is built on the strength of some remarkable partnerships: the L.A. Department of Parks and Recreation, the Harmony Project, Heart of Los Angeles, L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis and the L.A. County Office of Education. All partners share programmatic and financial responsibility.

Each site provides free, intensive music instruction, as well as social-service support, academic support, and leadership development. Students are together 16 hours per week after school, and YOLA’s intensity enables its success as a community.


We’ve noticed once YOLA students reach high school, they become more self-reflective of their role and impact in developing a community within YOLA. They’re recognizing YOLA’s place in the larger music education ecosystem, and that people are looking at this kind of program as a potential model to transform music education — one that has the power to create social change by combining aspects of youth development, access and equity, and high level music training. YOLA musicians are the best advocates for this work — they join the LA Phil on international tours to teach and perform, and present about their experiences in YOLA. As alumni, they return to YOLA as camp counselors and mentors for our summer programs. They are the future ambassadors for change in the world of music education and beyond. I couldn’t be more proud.

Funding from the California Arts Council is a vote of confidence that programs like YOLA are important, and that all kids deserve access to music education.

With that in mind, I’d love to introduce you to Josue May, one of YOLA’s recent graduates (pictured above, wearing purple and playing the trombone). Josue joined YOLA at EXPO in its first year a decade ago, and just graduated from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. He’ll attend CalArts in the fall to study music. He recently answered some questions about his time in YOLA and his upcoming plans.

—Gretchen Nielsen, Vice President, Educational Initiatives

 You and about 20 other YOLA musicians played the national anthem at Dodger Stadium on July 5. What was that like?

I’m a huge Dodgers fan — and I’d never been down on the field before — so it was really cool. We didn’t get to do a sound check, though. There was a full second delay between when we’d play a note and when we’d hear it through the sound system. We just had to really focus. Afterward I also saw Yasiel Puig nearby, talking to the manager.

You started out playing percussion. How’d you wind up on trombone?

In the fourth grade, my music teacher demonstrated different instruments for us, and I thought the trombone was really funny. I’ve been playing it ever since. I really like how it stands out. In the orchestra, it controls the level of emotion and portrays a lot of different feelings. It also adds a really majestic tone to the orchestra.

How did you settle on the California Institute of the Arts for college?

I applied to a few other music schools. But CalArts — besides being convenient and close to home — has the LA Phil’s associate principal trombonist teaching there. They also have a wide curriculum of other styles of music. For instance, I played in a big band, but I haven’t studied jazz, and that’s something I want to start doing.

When you started at YOLA 10 years ago, did you imagine you’d be headed to music school?

I put this in my college essay: I’ve known I wanted to be a musician since I was 7 or 8 years old. I’ve always been really drawn to it. When I got into [Los Angeles County High School for the Arts], I realized that everybody else took private lessons, which I’d thought was really rare. It led me to appreciate the opportunities YOLA gave me even more.

Around the state in 365 days with California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia


This week marks one year since Dana Gioia began his adventure as “poetry’s public servant” in the Golden State. In that time, the state poet laureate has taken his role as advocate for the art of poetry across the state quite literally, making it a point to visit every county in California.

Earlier this week, Gioia took the time to answer some of our questions—about poetry, his position, where he’s been, and where he’s headed next.

One year in—how has your experience as California’s poet laureate met your expectations? Has anything surprised you?

PR_Ventura_Oct2016_9I started with the huge assumption that there would be an audience for poetry everywhere in the state. Indeed there was. What surprised me was how big and varied it was—no matter where we went. We got big audiences in the smallest towns. There was also a wonderful mix of people. There were, of course, the local poets, musicians, and teachers we expected. But we also got mayors, ranchers, shopkeepers, accountants, almond farmers, veterans and veterinarians. The ages ranged from newborn to near centenarians.

Where have you done your poetry events?

I try to meet in the public library, but for many small towns it doesn’t have enough space, so we also meet in taverns, churches, galleries, museums, and parks. I went to a jazz club in Oakland and the National Cemetery in San Francisco. I go wherever the community invites me.

Was the program mostly you reading your own poetry?

No. Everywhere I go I invite local writers, musicians, and students to participate. It becomes a local celebration for poetry and creativity. I also try to end every event with a question-and-answer period so we all can have a public conversation about literature and literacy.

You still have one year left in your term. You have covered a lot of ground in your 58-county tour. You’ve visited 44 counties so far. What are the plans for the rest of your term?

Well, I have to reach those last 14 counties. Next week I go back to USC for the fall semester. That limits how much I can travel in the next few months. I will then finish up the tour in the spring. Once I reach the finish line with county 58, I will start over.

Why do you need to visit counties more than once?

PR_Mendocino_Feb 18 2017_4I’ve done almost 100 events so far, because it is important to visit the large counties several times to reach different communities. Los Angeles County has nearly 10 million people. That requires lots of events. The same goes for the Bay Area. When I was asked to read a poem at the Memorial Day ceremony at the Presidio’s National Cemetery, I immediately accepted because the gathering served a different audience from the venues I had already visited in San Francisco. I also knew that poetry was important for the troops, veterans, and families on such a solemn occasion.

You’re a native Californian. Having traveled to some lesser known and less populated parts of the state, have you gained new perspective on the state and what it means to be a Californian?

Absolutely! I thought I knew the state pretty well, but these trips have been a continuous discovery. I now realize how little I knew about the eastern half of the state, especially up pr_kern_dec2016_3.jpgin the Sierra Nevadas. Those counties are not only spectacularly beautiful, they are also central to the state’s history. There were also a lot of towns I knew only from driving through them on the way to somewhere else. How different it is to meet local people and spend a day or two there.

I just finished spending two weeks with BBC, which is doing a documentary on the statewide tour. I asked that the show only be partially about me. I wanted it to be mostly about the California that the British don’t know—the mountains, the Central Valley, the desert, and the north coast.

What makes a poem good?

There are many ways in which a poem can be good. Mostly, a poem works by shaping speech into a kind of song. A poem needs to be beautiful, memorable, and expressive. By “beautiful” I don’t mean merely “pretty” or superficially attractive. Beauty is a kind of heightened perception in which we recognize the deeper forms of reality—the way, for example, the shape of a tree tells about the light, the soil, and the winds around it.

What advice do you have for the uninitiated who may view poetry as pretentious or irrelevant?

I tell people just to relax and listen. Don’t feel as if you are in a classroom. Pretend you’re listening to music in a club. If I have learned anything on this tour, it is that most people enjoy poetry.

One last question, just for fun. If you were hosting an intimate dinner party, and could invite any three people, living or dead, who would they be, and why?

Honestly, I’d invite my mom, my dad, and my late Uncle Ted, because I miss them. But if I had to exclude family, I’d ask William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, and Oscar Wilde. I’d open up a bottle of good California wine and then listen to the conversation.

A gathering of young poets at the Yuba Theatre

To see more pictures from Gioia’s travels and learn more about past and upcoming events, visit