Arts Now Planning Initiative

The California Alliance for Arts Education's Arts Now Planning Initiative offers an opportunity for California districts and counties to complete a planning process using the best tools available: The Insiders' Guide to Arts Education Planning, high caliber facilitation and strategic assistance. The initiative also offers a subsidy to help districts and counties fund a planning process.

In 2007, in partnership with the California Department of Education, the California Alliance published The Insider's Guide to Arts Education Planning. Since then, it has been used in numerous districts and counties to create high quality plans. The Alliance, in partnership with LA County Arts Ed Collective, has released an updated version of the Guide. For more information about the Arts Now Planning Initiative, email Peggy Burt at peggy[at]

The Insider's Guide to Arts Education Planning is funded in part by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, and the California Arts Council.


Peggy Burt, Arts Now Program Director, is a longtime member of the arts education community in California, and brings a wealth of experience to the Arts Now Planning Initiative. In her former position as Executive Director of the CSSSA Foundation, she created the signature program, CSSSA Bridge to College, which supports college preparation for young artists, providing access to scholarship opportunities and a variety of career pathways. Peggy has been affiliated with LA County Arts Ed Collective since 2003, and has served as Arts for All coach mentor, and an Arts for All strategic planning coach for districts such as Burbank Unified School District, Pasadena Unified School District, Norwalk La Mirada Unified School District and ICEF Public Schools. Peggy served as the VAPA Coordinator for the Wiseburn School District for two years, and she is the co-author of the Insider's Guide to Arts Education Planning: 3rd Edition. Peggy enjoyed a long and rewarding career in dance and holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Utah and a Master's degree in Information Science from the University of Michigan.

Districts enrolled in Arts Now Planning Initiative:
Burton School District
Solano County
Moreno Valley Unified School District

In addition to Peggy Burt, coaches affiliated with the Arts Now Planning Initiative include:

Jim Thomas is a master facilitator and coach who works with school districts teachers, and community members in the areas of strategic planning, growing Professional Learning Communities, and leadership development. He is former Coordinator for Visual and Performing Arts at the Orange County Department of Education and creator of the Arts Advantage Initiative. Jim has facilitated strategic arts plans in twenty-one school districts. Each tailored plan includes a set of district goals, action steps, outcomes, fiscal implications, and timeline for implementation. Jim has a K-8 teaching background including self-contained classroom, performing arts specialist, and program manager for a K-8 magnet arts school. He is also a former director of The California Arts Project. Jim was a co-author of the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework and Content Standards.

Kimberleigh Aarn is an arts education consultant that has served the field for over 20 years. With the LA County Arts Ed Collective she supports school districts with strategic planning and has coached districts like Walnut Valley USD, Saugus Union, Lancaster and El Monte City with the development of an arts education plan. She has been a guest lecturer for the UCLA Visual and Performing Arts Education Program (VAPAE); consulted with the Center for Research on Creativity (CRoC) to support observations in administering the Next Generation Creativity Survey; and served as a discipline specialist with PS Arts and Crossroads Arts & Science. She worked nationally as a Senior Arts Educator at the Galef Institute with its professional development program/model curriculum, Different Ways of Knowing delivering coaching services throughout California, Arizona and New York. Kimberleigh is also a performing artist, potter and had the pleasure of co-authoring the Insider's Guide to Arts Education Planning: 3rd Edition. She received her MFA from the Yale School of Drama, and her BFA in Dramatic Arts from Emerson College.


Sandy Seufert works in the Los Angeles Area and beyond as a consultant conducting strategic planning and group facilitation. Her work with the LA County Arts Ed Collective has included working with the ICEF Public Schools and the Whittier Union High School District. The skills and knowledge applied to her coaching role are the culmination of over 25 years of work that includes special education teaching/support, teaching artist training, curriculum development, program management, teaching artist residencies, and professional development for both classroom teachers and teaching artists. In the past, she has worked for a wide variety of arts and education organizations including P.S. ARTS, Dramatic Results, Turnaround Arts: California, The Armory Center for the Arts, The Music Center, Los Angeles Opera, The Da Camera Society, and Los Angeles Unified School District. Sandy has also served on multiple grant panels, arts non-profit boards and committees, and holds a genuine commitment to add value to the field. Sandy also doubles as a professional cellist, playing with the Culver City Symphony for 20 years, and as a fiddler and composer performing Scandinavian folk music for cultural events and dances.

Celena Turney has consulted since 2005 for the California Alliance for Arts Education, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, non-profit arts organizations, as well as for school districts in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. She assists organizations in building capacity via strategic planning, project design, curriculum services, professional development, and program evaluation. Before becoming a consultant, Ms. Turney served as a classroom teacher, elementary arts specialist, and Literacy Coach for Los Angeles Unified School District. In 2017, she joined the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula as Curriculum Specialist. There, she is working on developing an intensive academic afterschool program, designed to boost literacy skills for elementary students falling below the proficiency benchmark. The new curricula will meaningfully integrate the arts, STEM, health and fitness with English language arts.

"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.