From Assessment to Arts Plan in Napa County

At this year’s Local Advocacy Retreat, local organizer Robin Hampton presented a breakout session featuring a case study of a countywide assessment of arts offerings, done by the Napa County Alliance for Arts Education - a local coalition made up of the Arts Council Napa Valley, the Napa County Office of Education, and over 50 Napa County educators, arts organizations, nonprofits, and community leaders.

The group’s extensive 360 Degree Assessment of arts education in Napa County aimed to identify the current landscape in relation to arts education assets the county already had, and also what it needed. 

Results from the assessment survey and further research conducted by task teams revealed certain strengths, such as numerous sustainable and award-winning arts programs at the high school level, as well as a common desire to collaborate in support of arts education. Gaps uncovered included a disconnect of communication between the sectors and a lack of awareness of VAPA standards. There were also blocked pathways within the district’s curriculum due to scheduling issues and inconsistent arts education offerings at school sites.

The next step in Napa’s advocacy strategy is a plan to communicate and work with stakeholders to develop common strategic goals and standards to be adopted by all participating organizations, which will give the varied group of stakeholders a unifying vision to foster their work together.

Says Robin,

“The challenge of working with so many stakeholders was juggling busy schedules. It has taken much time, but is very important - we saw each stakeholder as a valued part of the process. School district administrators juggle much. Arts education is not always a priority. The true advocate’s role is to bring forward the value of the arts. We want to build support and create partners moving forward – no blame, no shame.”

The Napa County Alliance is working on creating a district-wide arts plan that will establish a district VAPA coordinator, whose role will be to sustain and build standards-based, sequential arts education for students, taught by VAPA-trained educators during the school day. Robin hopes an Arts Plan will provide equitable access to the arts for all students, with a planned arts education curriculum that builds through a student’s educational journey.