California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

June 26, 2014Caitlin Fitzwater

California Arts Council Awards more than $1 Million in Grants aimed at Transforming Communities through the Arts

Twenty-three projects reaching twenty counties supported by the new Creative California Communities grant program

Sacramento -

 The California Arts Council will support 23 projects in communities across the state through a new program, Creative California Communities. This program will transform communities by harnessing arts and culture as a key economic development strategy.

Projects supported by the Creative California Communities program represent a wide range of arts disciplines, and aim to revitalize neighborhoods through the arts, foster new arts engagement, stimulate tourism, create jobs for artists, invest in young people, and build relationships between local arts, business, and government entities.

"The Creative California Communities program supports many significant projects in large and small communities across California, demonstrating the power of the arts to transform our state," said Wylie Aitken, Chair of the California Arts Council. "Our Council was inspired by the overwhelming response to this program, which revealed the scope of unmet needs for the arts in our communities."

The Arts Council received 157 applications for this highly competitive grant program, which is supported by one-time funds from the California State Assembly. After an open application process, an advisory panel reviewed all grant applications, followed by a review and vote from the Council at a public meeting in Los Angeles on June 18, 2014.

The Council originally anticipated supporting seven to fifteen projects; however, upon reviewing the applications, the Council voted to fund a larger number of projects, in accordance with the published decision-making criteria. When making funding decisions, the Council considered the following factors: outreach to new communities, overall statewide geographic distribution of projects, variety of projects, projects able to begin as early as possible, and likelihood of demonstrating the value of the arts.

Creative California Communities Grant Recipients (in alphabetical order)

A Reason to Survive
San Diego County

ARTS Enterprises will expand their already-successful artistic and community opportunities for at-risk youth, artists and businesses, all based on the creation of artfully designed goods and services by youth artists. $50,000.

Amador County, also serves Calaveras County

"River Reflections" will harness the arts over a six-month period to build awareness and appreciation of the Mokelumne River among the 1.4 million people who depend on its water, from the Sierra foothills to the East Bay Area. $40,000.

Arte Américas
Fresno County

In partnership with the Warnors Center for the Performing Arts and the Valley Cultural Coalition, Arte Américas will expand its annual Día de los Muertos events into the surrounding district and create two additional murals in the Fresno area. $60,000.

Arts Council of Kern
Kern County

The Delano Downtown Breezeway Project, timed to coincide with the city's centennial celebration, will contract local artists to paint cultural murals to help foster a sense of community identity and pride. $30,000.

Arts Council Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz County

The Ebb & Flow River Arts Project, a year-long collaborative arts and educational initiative, will unite unlikely partners to transform the community's relationship with the San Lorenzo River and the Tannery Arts Center. $50,000.

Filipino-American Development Foundation
San Francisco County

FADF will organize the Pinoy Arts Festival in San Francisco's historic Filipino community, a month-long multidisciplinary event inspired by traditional Philippine festivals celebrating the end of summer. $50,000.

First Voice
San Francisco County

First Voice will curate Suite J-Town, a multicultural, inter-generational series of events, performances and exhibits created to revitalize the San Francisco Japantown neighborhood, celebrate its 100-year history, and commission young artists to contribute their voice for future generations. $50,000.

Friends of Olympia Station, Inc.
Santa Cruz County, also serves Monterey County

ArtSmart will bring 25 concerts and 60 dance and performing arts classes to California's Central Coast, reaching underserved populations in King City, Salinas, Watsonville and Santa Cruz. $50,000.

Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles
Los Angeles County, also serves Kern, Fresno, and Riverside Counties

The first California tour of It Gets Better, a new stage work blending music, theater and multimedia, will travel to underserved communities across the state with a message of hope and tolerance. Each performance will cap a week of community dialogue and art-making addressing prevention of high-school bullying. $50,000.

The Harmony Project
Los Angeles County, also serves San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Orange Counties

The Harmony Project will bring 100 professional musicians together with 2,000 at-risk students throughout Los Angeles to play side-by-side in ensembles and at intensive learning camps. Highly-rehearsed and organized pop-up performances will be staged at densely populated public spaces throughout Southern California. $50,000.

The Japanese American Cultural and Community Center
Los Angeles County

Cultural Pathways of Little Tokyo will link cultural institutions and small businesses to provide pop-up exhibitions of ikebana and calligraphy, and encourage participants to walk through the community. $30,000.

Kala Art Institute
Alameda County

Kala will bring together multiple community partners for Print Public, a new placemaking project to create art installations, print kiosks, pop-up projects and other innovative acts of culture along San Pablo Avenue in West Berkeley. $50,000.

LA STAGE Alliance
Los Angeles County

LA STAGE Alliance will expand the reach and deepen the impact of its multi-purpose center, which provides rehearsal, work, and community meeting space as well as set, prop and costume storage for multiple performing arts groups. $50,000.

Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
San Diego County

The Museum of Contemporary Art and Combat Arts San Diego will engage three local artists to serve 100 troops in military residential post-traumatic stress disorder treatment programs, to support the healing of combat trauma through in-depth, high-quality artistic experiences. $34,557.

Oakland Museum of California
Alameda County

The Oakland Museum, Oakland School for the Arts, renowned California artists, and community members will create Día de los Muertos altars to honor ancestors, help healing from loss, and raise awareness of community issues. $30,000.

Peralta Hacienda Historical Park
Alameda County

Peralta Hacienda will design an interactive outdoor "museum without walls" called the Urban Book, creating an arts and performance gathering place in Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood. $50,000.

Placer County

PlacerArts will create "Watershed Reflections" to help the public conserve and value water through free, artist-led public activities including storytelling, painting, trash-inspired music- and art-making, the creation of public art trail markers and a series of articles and messages for print and electronic media. $30,000.

Plumas County Arts Commission
Plumas County

"Plumas Artisan Made" will provide branding support with business and marketing training for local artist entrepreneurs in the far north of California, to develop, execute and promote a new economic strategy for this rural area. $40,000.

San Benito County Arts Council
San Benito County

"Activate Downtown," in partnership with the Hollister Downtown Association, will harness the arts as a catalyst for economic growth, neighborhood revitalization and community engagement in Hollister, through coordinated events and site-specific projects. $42,500.

Watts Village Theater Company
Los Angeles County

The Watts Village Theater Company will partner with Watts Coffee House and Youth Opportunities High School to produce a site-specific play at the Mafundi Auditorium, revitalizing it as a cultural and economic asset through audience development, beautification and repair. $30,000.

Yolo County

"The ArtFul Plate" will commission California artists to become part of the region's "farm to fork" movement, creating a series of dinner plates to be sold at county restaurants with a seasonal, locally-sourced meal. Participating artists and restaurants will be chosen from a county-wide "call," emphasizing Yolo County art and locally-produced food. $45,000.

Youth in Arts
Marin County

"Creative San Rafael" will unite multiple local partners to make downtown a destination, engaging professional artists to work with citizens of all ages to create murals and banners throughout downtown San Rafael. $30,000.

Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council
Sutter County, Yuba County

Yuba City will reinstate the Cultural Celebration and restore the local Bok Kai Festival to its former glory. Both events will take place in the heart of the business sector to spur economic growth and draw visitors while lending the community a sense of self. $30,420.


One-time California State Assembly Arts Funding

Creative California Communities grants are supported by one-time funds from the California State Assembly. In July 2013, the California Arts Council received $2 million in savings from the 2013 State Assembly operating budget. The funds, directed to support arts and arts education programs in California communities via grants or direct services, must be encumbered during the 2013-2014 fiscal year and expended by June 30, 2015. Funds will not be used for administrative costs at the agency.

Funds will be distributed through Creative California Communities and two additional competitive grant programs, as well as through special arts education initiatives - reaching a total of 43 counties across California. All one-time programs and initiatives will be summarized in a forthcoming announcement.


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The Mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Wylie Aitken, Vice Chair Susan Steinhauser, Michael Alexander, Christopher Coppola, Donn K. Harris, Charmaine Jefferson, William Turner, and Rosalind Wyman. Learn more at

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