Meet the CAC Staff, Part 1

Welcome back! We hope you all have had a fantastic start to your 2018 so far, taking time to make time, spending the holiday season with your friends and loved ones. In that spirit, we thought we’d kick off the first blog of the year with an introduction to our family at the California Arts Council, and give you a chance to learn a bit more about what they do and who they are. Part one begins with our administrative staff.

Name: Bintou CoulibalyBintuo_3
Title: Senior Accounting Officer
Bintou oversees the accounting staff and handles fiscal reporting to state control agencies. Born in the Ivory Coast, she says her move to the United States was one of her greatest life adventures. In addition to speaking English, French, and at least five different African dialects, Bintou has all the qualities of an incredible listener, often topped off with a witty reply. She enjoys reading, cooking, and playing soccer with her three children when she’s not here with us—though if you ask her what she does outside of work … here comes that wit we mentioned: “Sleep.”

rdiazName: Richard Diaz
Title: Receptionist
Richard’s our go-to guy for all the office needs—fielding and directing calls from our main phone line, delivering the mail, purchasing office supplies, and storing CAC records. When he’s not representing at reception, he spends his time off working on model planes and cars, or playing old-school video games. He also enjoys the company of family and friends, furry incarnations included. Richard has three dogs: Scooby, Shaggy, and YoYo.

JHamlin_2Name: Jared Hamlin
Title: Accountant I
Jared’s part of our accounting staff, processing payments to our grantees. Some quick math about Jared: His favorite colors (green and orange) + his favorite food (pizza) = Michelangelo. As in his favorite Ninja Turtle, not the Renaissance artist—our interests can sometimes stray from the more obvious, you know! Jared’s also recently married. He and his newly betrothed just moved to a new place in order to add a dog to their current two-cat lifestyle. Congrats, JareBear!

YJimenezName: Yurika Jimenez
Title: Accountant I
Yurika is without a doubt the owner of the sunniest disposition of the CAC staff, with a smile that may require UV protection. She also loves the color “pink!” and eating “sushi!” (both followed by enthusiastic exclamation points in the staff survey—you see what we mean?). As one of our accountants, she’s got a head for numbers… and so much more. In a recent staff meeting, we were delighted by this diva’s operatic rendition of the birthday song. Move over, Marilyn!

mmoscosoName: Mariana Moscoso
Title: Arts in Corrections Program Analyst
Mariana’s administrative specialty lies with our Arts in Corrections program, coordinating contracts, program development and monitoring. Her interests in life, however, are less specialized, more just special. Mariana is deeply inspired by tradition, with her Afro-indigenous roots shaping her understanding and place in the universe. She speaks four languages—English, Spanish, German, Italian—and is working on a fifth, Tz’utujil. Mariana recently participated in the WESTAF Emerging Leaders of Color Cohort, and has an impressive collection of bead jewelry and a cat named Machiavelli. How cool is all of that? We say very.

Name: Nicole Sancheznsanchez
Title: Procurement and Contracts Analyst
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” That line, by Robert Brault, is Nicole’s favorite quote, and it sums up her life philosophy well. Nicole’s responsible for agency contracts and procurement activities here at the office, but at home, she’s responsible for her two young sons, ages 8 and 13, who she says inspire her every day to be better. She often serves as Team Mom or even Coach for whatever sport is in season. “Their hobbies are my hobbies!” she adds. Except for her love of skydiving—the boys will have to wait until they are a bit older for that one.

Name: Debra WaltmanDebraW_2
Title: Director of Administrative Services
Debra heads up the aforementioned administrative support staff while also handling all things budget, in addition to contract completion, interagency agreements, and purchasing. Outside the office, the music maven makes time to teach herself guitar, check out concert scene and serve on the Girls Rock Sacramento Advisory Board. Debra’s attitude about her team, and of all of the staff at the CAC, is a fitting close to Part 1 of our Meet the Staff series:

“One of my favorite things about the Arts Council is the culture. We are all open and accepting of each other as individuals—not just as co-workers.”

Well said.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Meet the Staff series, coming soon!

2017: The Highlights

It’s been such an eventful year here at the California Arts Council, full of advancements toward fulfilling our vision—a California where arts and culture thrive on our streets, at our schools, and in the hearts of every resident.

Looking back, we couldn’t possibly list all the wonderful achievements of our grantees, Council, and staff without penning a novel. To save you from scroll fatigue, we hope you’ll settle for this abridged list of some of our biggest accomplishments of 2017.


More than $15 million in state funding was invested in California nonprofit organizations and units of government for their work spanning the Arts Council’s 15 unique program categories, benefiting students, veterans, arts educators, at-risk youth, formerly incarcerated individuals, underserved populations, and communities at large. The 1,076 grants awarded are the largest investment in grants for the Arts Council since the 2002-03 fiscal year.


June’s announcement of the 2017-18 state budget turned a one-time $6.8 million increase from this fiscal year into a permanent one, extending the reach of the California Arts Council’s grant programs to more sustainably meet the needs and demand for arts and cultural experiences benefiting diverse communities across the state.


Now in its fourth year, the Otis Report on the Creative Economy of California continues to emphasize the value of our state’s creative industry, drawing a direct relationship between California’s place as the sixth largest global economy and its artistic residents. This year’s report cited a $406.5 billion creative economic output, responsible for 10.9 percent of the state’s GDP.  As an addendum to the report, the Arts Council commissioned a white paper targeting the housing crisis in California to identify ways to fight the displacement of California’s artist population.


California’s Arts in Corrections program has become internationally renowned for its high-impact, innovative approach to addressing the state’s critical public safety needs and rehabilitative priorities through the arts. Made possible by an interagency partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, arts programming now reaches all 35 state adult correctional institutions – a significant increase from the 20 institutions served by the program in the previous fiscal year.


Building on the success of the Arts in Corrections program, the California Arts Council introduced Reentry Through the Arts, a grant program rooted in the belief in the arts as an agent of change for the formerly incarcerated. We initiated Research in the Arts, the first program of its kind supporting original research on the value and impact of the arts. And we revamped and reinstituted our Arts and Public Media program to better engage our communities in arts and culture storytelling.


The California Arts Council launched its California Cultural District program in 2017, designating 14 districts to comprise the program’s first cohort. Aligning with the mission and values of the California Arts Council, the districts will celebrate some of the thriving cultural diversity and unique artistic identities of California while unifying under an umbrella of shared values, helping to grow and sustain authentic grassroots arts and cultural opportunities, increasing the visibility of local artists and community participation in local arts and culture, and promoting socioeconomic and ethnic diversity. Additional new districts will be eligible to apply for state designation in 2019 through a finalized certification process.

Whew! That’s quite a bit, and really, we’ve just scratched the surface of the meaningful work that’s taken place here this year. As we plan for next year and the years to come, we’ll continue to strive for quality service, bettering our communities, improving lives, and celebrating California’s vibrancy through increased access to the arts.

Happy holidays, from all of us! See you in 2018!

Creative Forces San Diego: Where arts and military meet

The California Arts Council was in San Diego last week to participate in a pivotal regional event. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is now one of 11 clinical sites nationwide to join the Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, aimed at leveraging creative arts therapies to improve the lives of military personnel, veterans, and their families in local communities.

More than half a million members of the armed services are currently living with traumatic brain injury or PTSD. Arts therapy integration and community arts programming can play an important role in their recovery, accomplishing goals outside the boundaries of traditional medical treatment. Recognizing California serving as home to nearly 2 million veterans and 200,000 active military members—more than any other state—identifying ways to better connect the two fields becomes an imperative.

The daylong Creative Forces Summit on December 7 rallied together military personnel with professionals in the fields of art and health for a day of presentations, panels, and performances designed to encourage collaboration and ideation in support of military and veteran families. Many locally based CAC grantees from our Veterans in the Arts program were on hand as well, to impart knowledge and offer perspective on developing arts programming specifically for veterans, and to showcase the creative work of veterans involved with their projects.

We were honored to be asked by the NEA to lead the coordination of this event, and we’re proud of the collaborations and dialogue that emerged as a result. The summit inspired many productive conversations, before and during, and continues to provoke thought leaders in the field. It’s clear that California, and the greater San Diego area in particular, is home to many innovative and impassioned people and programs serving our veterans, active military, their families and their caregivers. We’re excited for a future that will take rehabilitative arts opportunities for our military to the next level.

We’re also looking forward to an exchange of ideas with fellow Creative Forces summits being held in other states, taking advantage of one another’s available resources, sharing brainstorms and best practices to allow each site to grow cooperatively while simultaneously customizing concepts to fit each region’s needs.

Thank you to the National Endowment for the Arts for leading the charge on such a vital issue. We’re also grateful to Deputy Secretary Keith Boylan and our partners at CalVet, for their participation and their interest in how the arts can support their mission. And a most sincere thank you to the San Diego Region Creative Forces Planning Task Force, for a job well done:

Check out a few summit highlights below. For more clips from Creative Forces San Diego, visit the California Arts Council YouTube channel.

  • Keynote Address – Sgt. Benjamin Tourtelot, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired) and Lisa Fagan (17:33)


  • Creative Forces: From Clinical to Community Panel Discussion / Q&A (1:19:12)



Photo by Rebecca Vaudreuil

The California Arts Council's Veterans in the Arts grant program provides project support for nonprofit arts organizations, local arts agencies, and veteran’s assistance agencies to reach veterans, active military, and their families across California. Applications are now open. Visit the Veterans in the Arts page for program details. 

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 March 2, 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 – extended!: March 2, 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!