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.


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.


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.

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!


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/.

“40 Stories” Spotlight: Juan Felipe Herrera

To celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we asked forty of our amazing grantees, past and present, to tell the story of their work and their relationship with the California Arts Council. Throughout this anniversary year, we’ll be sharing excerpts from our special publication 40 Stories, 40 Years here on the blog. You can view the complete collection at this link.

Editor’s Note: This week, we’re proud to feature a story from Juan Felipe Herrera, who was just reappointed  for a second year as United States Poet Laureate. 

Juan Felipe Herrera, Fresno

By Juan Felipe Herrera, United States Poet Laureate

Year of first CAC Grant: 1976

Dreams Fulfilled

The four grants that I received from 1976–1987 allowed me to fulfill my dreams as a community poet, artist and arts catalyst. My first grant, for the Expresión Library project, saved me – like all of the California Arts Council grants. My life has been devoted to the arts and to the community; in 1976, my financial resources were few, if any. And my one chance to survive financially was through a CAC grant. I organized a city and county-wide set of exhibits, forums and readings. This gave artists public space to set their works into motion. The next step was a new literary form, at least in San Diego.

A New Poetics

Each of my CAC grants propelled me, urged me, fascinated me, encouraged me and expanded my sense of the powers, compassions, and condorwingspan reach of poetry in the community. Each project was new. Each outcome was inspirational. Each step was a necessary move on the path to a new poetics and self.

Walking to a Crossroads

From 2012 to 2014 I was the California Poet Laureate. Today, I am the United States Poet Laureate. My current project is called Casa de Colores, House of Colors. You can view it online at the Library of Congress website. It is an outcome of many years of experimentation and trials and new findings – and I give great credit to the CAC for walking me to this new crossroads.

Juan Felipe Herrera on the floor of the California State Senate. July 6, 2015. Photo by Lorie Shelley. 

JFHJUAN FELIPE HERRERA The son of migrant farm workers, Herrera was educated at UCLA and Stanford University, and he earned his M.F.A from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In addition to publishing more than a dozen collections of poetry, Herrera has written short stories, young adult novels, and children’s literature. In 2012, Herrera was named California’s Poet Laureate, and the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2015. He has won the Hungry Mind Award of Distinction, the Focal Award, two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, and a PEN West Poetry Award. www.juanfelipepoet.com  (Photos by Ted Catanzaro unless otherwise noted)

View the complete 40 Stories, 40 Years collection at this link.

“40 Stories” Spotlight: Radio Bilingüe

To celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we asked forty of our amazing grantees, past and present, to tell the story of their work and their relationship with the California Arts Council. Throughout this anniversary year, we’ll be sharing excerpts from our special publication 40 Stories, 40 Years here on the blog. You can view the complete collection at this link.

Radio Bilingüe, Fresno

By Hugo Morales, Co-Founder and Executive Director

Year of First CAC Grant: Early 1980s

Changing the Future

Radio Bilingüe Original Artwork by Malaquias Montoya 1976

In the early 1980s, the CAC changed the future of Radio Bilingüe (for the first but not last time) by awarding a grant for training of young Latinas and Latinos living in the San Joaquin Valley in the art of radio soon after we had launched our first Latino-controlled
bilingual community radio station, KSJV in Fresno. The grant trained our small young staff of volunteers and scores of unpaid community volunteers who developed all of the first beautiful music, cultural and information programming that got Radio Bilingüe on its way to becoming what it is today – the leading content service and producer of Spanish and Latino-oriented programming in public broadcasting in the United States.

Independent Evaluation Confirms Our Impact

In 1987 the CAC once again literally transformed Radio Bilingüe as a sustainable non-commercial enterprise by funding an independent evaluation through a multicultural grant program. The study showed that the majority of Latinos sampled from phone books in the San Joaquin Valley had listened to Radio Bilingüe in the past 24 hours! The results led us to adopt a lifelong organizational culture of independent evaluation and internal learning, in order to continually have impact and improve our services to our audience. This has allowed us to tell our story and make our case to hundreds of foundations that have supported our work in the arts and other areas critical to Latinos: health access, educational access, immigration policy and more.

Celebrating Tradition, Welcoming Innovation

Radio Bilingüe is now considered one of the most significant promoters of musical and cultural traditions and innovations of diverse Latino and indigenous communities—an on-air curator for under-reported and under-covered arts and artists. Our daily radio
programming continues to celebrate and promote traditional music and culture, in Spanish, English and indigenous languages. This is totally absent from commercial Spanish language media.

CAC’s recent Arts on the Air program made possible a beautiful series in 2014-15: “Raíces: Los Maestros,” highlighting innovative California -based Latino artists who are helping to ensure that new generations know and experience art and what it can offer for their lives
and communities. This year, CAC’s Arts on the Air grant is supporting our series centered around folk festivals of distinct indigenous migrant groups burgeoning throughout our state.


HUGO MORALES is a Mixtec Indian from Oaxaca, Mexico who at the age of nine immigrated to California with his family. He grew up picking grapes and attending public school in Sonoma County, CA, then went on to graduate from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. In 1976 he was the moving force of a group of Latino farmworkers, artists, activists and teachers that founded Radio Bilingüe in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and he has led the organization ever since to its current position as a major national public media service.

View the complete 40 Stories, 40 Years collection at this link.

“40 Stories” Spotlight: Khmer Arts Academy

To celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we asked forty of our amazing grantees, past and present, to tell the story of their work and their relationship with the California Arts Council. Throughout this anniversary year, we’ll be sharing excerpts from our special publication 40 Stories, 40 Years here on the blog. You can view the complete collection at this link.


Khmer Arts Academy, Long Beach

By Reaksmey (Mea) Lath, Instructor/Performer at Khmer Arts Academy

Year of First CAC Grant: 2002

A Stamp of Approval

I was among the original students of Cambodian classical dance at the Khmer Arts Academy when it was established in 2002. The California Arts Council (CAC) was among the first funders of the organization, which provides free dance workshops in the Cambodian refugee community of Long Beach, the largest community of its kind outside of Southeast Asia. Through the CAC’s then Multi-Cultural Entry Grant program, the Academy was able to provide programming and leverage those funds as matches for additional support. Funding for the traditional arts is not always easy to come by, especially in a small and impoverished immigrant community without the resources to support its own culture. A stamp of approval through a CAC grant said this was an endeavor of value. Over time, many foundations came to recognize the same thing. The organization is now the most accomplished Cambodian arts organization in the country.

Passing On an Ancient Tradition

As a result of California Arts Council support for Khmer Arts Academy, I have had the opportunity, over the past 13 years, to advance from student to teacher, passing on a tradition that is more than a thousand years old and helping to offer younger members of my challenged community opportunities to develop a sense of excellence. Through CAC support for residency programs, I’ve come to know top-notch performing artists from different traditions and fields, who have helped me gain a better understanding of the possibilities for how the body can move through time and space as well as how different artistic traditions evolve. Without Khmer Arts Academy, I simply would not have had access to this exquisite cultural tradition of my parents and their ancestors.

Enriching the Community

Long Beach is home to perhaps 50,000 Cambodians. The Cambodia Town Cultural District is a place where you’ll find markets, tailors, pharmacies, restaurants and auto body shops catering to Cambodians. Khmer Arts Academy is its center for dance. The organization has changed the way the dance is practiced, performed and understood in the community and beyond.

Photographed by The Future Collective for the LA County Arts Commission
Khmer Arts Academy Photographed by The Future Collective for the LA County Arts Commission



REAKSMEY (MEA) LATH has studied classical dance with Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, Charya Burt, Sothavy Khut and Sophanmay Nong as well as with Khmer Arts Ensemble in Cambodia. With Khmer Arts Academy, she has performed throughout California. Mea is a recent graduate of San Diego State University.

View the complete 40 Stories, 40 Years collection at this link.

#MyCreativeCA Video: Malashock Dance “Math in Motion”

We’ve created a series of short-form, documentary videos that celebrate creative expression in California. The videos follow art programming across California, from rural towns to some of the state’s largest cities, which are making positive impacts in our communities.

STEM + Arts = STEAM. In this week’s #MyCreativeCA video, watch San Diego’s Malashock Dance Company teach students math through movement at a local Title 1 elementary school.

#MyCreativeCA #CAarts40 http://www.arts.ca.gov