Arts Now California

Right now, school leaders all over California are making new investments in arts education to improve schoolwide outcomes. Responding to findings released last year from the California Arts Education Data Project, Tulare County leaders are undertaking a Strategic Arts Planning process to ensure that students in all of the county’s forty-three school districts have access to arts education. In San Diego Unified, the second largest school district in California, school leaders have launched an initiative investing $3 million in Title 1 funds into arts integration programs in order to improve student achievement, attendance and engagement at twenty-two of the district’s low-performing schools. Investments continue to be made within California’s new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Compton Unified is integrating the visual and performing arts throughout the curriculum for English Learners in order to improve rates of English language proficiency and graduate rates.

From improved student engagement to increased academic achievement, the benefits of a creative education have profound and lasting impact on K-12 students. The creativity and innovation cultivated by an arts education develop into skills essential for success in the workforce.

The Arts Now Campaign, launched by the California Alliance for Arts Education, shines a light on districts and counties that are working to improve the quality of students’ educations through investments in the arts and encourages other districts to do the same. Our goal is to establish the expectation that every district is responsible for providing their students with a high quality, comprehensive education that includes a robust arts program, complete with instruction by credentialed arts teachers as well as arts integration strategies implemented across the curriculum.

Arts Now Objectives:

  1. Support the development of district and county arts plans
  2. Provide education about how districts can use arts strategies to improve outcomes for low incomes students through LCFF and the Title I program
  3. Empower community members to advocate for arts education through Arts Now Communities
  4. Promote student voices in school decision-making and arts education advocacy

"An Unfinished Canvas," the SRI study in 2006 of Arts Education Policy and Practice in California, found that "In California’s more affluent schools, almost twice the percentage of students received instruction in each arts discipline, compared with high-poverty schools." Where community resources support a complete education, the arts exist; where those resources are lacking due to economic disadvantage, the arts and its many benefits for students are marginalized. These benefits extend from student engagement in school, to improved academic achievement, to developing aspects of creativity and innovation cultivated by the arts, to preparing students with the skills they will need to function successfully in the workforce. Learn more.

At this moment, California's education system is undergoing an unprecedented process of re-evaluation and re-investment. California's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) requires local school boards to address goals that include student engagement, parental involvement, school climate, student achievement and pupil outcomes. The arts speak directly to those outcomes. School boards are seizing this opportunity to invest in arts education strategies in unprecedented ways.

We want to build upon their commitment, and to spread the word to neighboring districts, by offering a fresh approach to our new educational priorities.

LCFF offers an opportunity for arts education to emerge as a strategy that districts pursue to enhance student learning and improve school climate. For example, in the Chula Vista Unified School District, $15 million has been invested in hiring over 70 credentialed arts teachers to ensure that all students receive instruction in music, theatre, dance, and visual arts. Learn more.

An Arts Education Plan is produced from a strategic planning process that creates a visionary, sustainable plan designed to increase the quality, quantity and equity of arts education in schools.

The Alliance recently celebrated Napa Valley Unified School District, where a team composed of district and community leaders came together to create a five-year plan that will guide decision making to achieve complete arts education for all students K-12.

As a result of the Alliance's policy and advocacy work, Title I funds are now being used for arts education strategies that support academic achievement among low-income students in California. In San Diego Unified School District, the school board has committed $3 million in Title I funds to support arts integration learning in 22 elementary schools. Learn more.

Student voices are essential to igniting change in the education landscape. Students can and should be included in district planning and advocacy efforts. In 2016, hundreds of students participated in the Alliance's Student Voices Campaign, an annual video advocacy campaign, spurring exciting changes in schools across California including the expansion of arts programs, the hiring of new teachers, and the addition of gender neutral bathrooms.

The implementation of Common Core curriculum also offers a unique opportunity to include the skills and practices inherent in arts education across subject matters. Learn more.

Our campaign will focus on outreach, education, and recognition of the various arts education strategies available. Campaign components will include:

  • Regional Arts Now Summits: Rallying point for celebration, cultivation, professional development and education of local advocates, administrators and decision makers.
  • Arts Now Communities: A statewide network of regional/district/county advocacy groups who receive strategic coaching, training, communication supports and grant opportunities to pursue campaign objectives.
  • Arts Planning Initiative: Strategic assistance, high caliber facilitation and financial stipend to help school districts and counties complete an arts plan using the best tools available.
  • Title 1 Arts: Step-by-step coaching for schools and districts to incorporate arts integration strategies in their Title I program.
  • LCFF: Tools and training to help community advocates effectively participate in their school district’s annual planning process.
  • Alliance Turnkey Advocacy Projects & Student Engagement: Encourage engagement in Student Voices Campaign, Candidate Survey, Arts Ed Data Project, and other tools to advance campaign goals.
  • Alliance Policy & Advocacy Hub: Webinars, policy papers, research and collateral materials to support education and advocacy.  
  • Press Outreach, Campaign Branding and Communications: Branding and communications that tie together all elements of Arts Now along with strategic press outreach and social media to drive coverage, awareness and education.
  • Statewide partnerships: Strong ties with statewide organizations and associations for the primary purpose of regional strategy integration.

Together we will demonstrate the success of arts education learning in districts that have embraced a robust investment and determine how best these practices can be replicated elsewhere.

The California Alliance for Arts Education was established as a volunteer-driven grassroots organization in 1973, aimed at ensuring that arts education is at the core of every child's education. The mission of the Alliance is to advocate for high quality arts education for all students by providing policy expertise and by mobilizing a statewide network of advocates and allied partners. Learn more.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

This Summit recognized and shared the individual and collective work in support of arts education in the Bay Area. Workshop topics included local and statewide strategies and resources for including the arts in LCFF/LCAPs, Title I, district strategic arts plans, and a creative career panel for students.

The program also featured examples of inspiring student advocacy and activism from around the state, and included a special screening of videos from the 2018 Student Voices Campaign. A student-led forum with the 2018 candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), Tony Thurmond, Assemblymember from the 15th Assembly District, and Marshall Tuck, former CEO of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, focused on addressing students’ questions regarding arts education policy, equity, access, and other relevant topics.

The theme of the Summit was "Action for Arts Equity" and featured strides being made to increase access to arts education in the region, including surrounding counties.

Presented by: California Alliance for Arts Education, Alameda County Office of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, San Francisco Unified School District, Oakland Museum of California, California State PTA

RESOURCES (more to be posted - check back soon!)


Friday, December 8, 2017

This Summit celebrated 15 years of coordinated efforts for arts education in LA County. Presenters shared findings from the Arts Ed Profile, a research project designed to identify the quality, quantity and equitable distribution of arts education in LA County. Workshop topics included local and statewide strategies and resources for including arts in LCFF/LCAPs, district strategic arts plans and student advocacy.

Presented by: LA County Arts Education Collective and California Alliance for Arts Education, in partnership with Arts for LA and LA County Arts Commission.


Breakout One

Breakout Two

Breakout Three

Friday, September 9, 2016

Napa has a unique story to tell. In 2013, Arts Council Napa Valley (ACNV) created the ACNV Education Alliance to assess the state of arts education in Napa County. This public-private alliance after producing an arts education assessment commissioned the drafting of a Napa Arts Education Master Plan, which presents a comprehensive framework for the development of TK-12 sequential, standards-based arts education curriculum. Since then, NVUSD has hired a full-time Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Coordinator, and new curriculum and programs are being developed to fulfill the promise of the assessment and the Arts Education Master Plan.



Friday, January 6, 2017

This region-wide conference offered strategies and resources for bringing creative education to rural school districts. School leaders, teachers, and community partners from Northern Humboldt Union High School District shared how they have increased opportunities for creative learning through collaboration, partnerships within Humboldt’s creative economy, and programs that engage local artists and arts organizations in classrooms.



Arts Education Learning Exchange - San Diego County 2016

Thursday & Friday, March 17-18, 2016

The event brought national focus to two school districts in San Diego County, where arts education has emerged as a priority to improve student success. The Exchange enabled participants to witness school site learning, hear from key leaders and stakeholders within the school districts and local arts organizations, and learn strategies and resources districts can use to embed arts education in student learning.


March 16 - Pre-Event Workshop: In-School Arts Education and El Sistema School Advocacy
El Sistema Applied Case Studies led by Eric Booth:
March 17 - Chula Vista Elementary School District Presents "In-School Arts Education"
School Site Visit Documents:
March 18 - San Diego Unified School District Presents "In-School/Out-of-School VAPA Immersion Day"
School Site Visit Documents:
A celebration of student learning and community support was held the evening of March 17th to recognize these local leaders and celebrate the critical importance of arts education in student learning.

The California Alliance for Arts Education gratefully acknowledges support for this program from the Stuart Foundation and the Adobe Foundation.