March 2020 Arts Initiative Newsletter

CCSESA Statewide Arts Initiative for the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association

March is Arts Education Month!

This image is a logo of the CCSESA Arts Initaitive and includes different colors to symbolize the vibrancy of the arts. The language reads: California County Superintendents Arts Initiative.

believes that the visual and performing arts are an integral part of a comprehensive curriculum and are essential for learning in the 21st century. All California students—from every culture, geographic region and socio-economic level—deserve quality arts learning in dance, music, theatre, and visual/media arts as part of the core curriculum.

In this issue you will find:

COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts Upcoming Arts Events and Meetings

March is Arts Education Month

California Arts Education Data Project

Students Experience Equity and Joy through El Sistema in Pajaro Valley Unified School District

California Arts Council Releases New Strategic Framework

Americans for the Arts Cancel Upcoming National Arts Action Summit

Upcoming Events and Professional Learning Opportunities

Arts Education Resources and Organizations

COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts Upcoming Arts Events and Meetings

CCSESA Statewide Arts Initiative and many county offices of education have cancelled upcoming arts events in response to the growing safety concerns related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we continue to hear from educators across the state, we are learning more about the widespread impact of COVID-19. While it is most disappointing to cancel events, our primary concern is the safety of the students, educators, and community members that we serve. County Superintendents and staff are working closely with the Governor, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and health officials to provide support to all the school districts in California.

On March 18, 2020 state, regional, and county arts leaders met via video conferencing to discuss ways to support educators and community members during this time. Pauline Crooks (San Diego County Office of Education) and Jeannine Flores (Los Angeles County Office of Education) facilitated a discussion inviting leaders to contribute to a growing list of online resources that can be used statewide. To view the list of resources click here. If you have resources to share, please send them to Jessica Mapes at

Arts Meetings and Events that have been cancelled to date:

  • April 1, 2020: Rural Arts Convening
  • April 2-3, 2020: Arts Framework Planning Meeting (TCAP, CDE, and CCSESA)
  • April 24, 2020: Insider’s Guide to Arts Education Planning (CAAE and CCSESA)
  • May 12, 2020: CCSESA Arts Learning Colloquium
  • May 12-13, 2020: Statewide Arts Leadership Convening (CREATE CA, CCSESA, and Sacramento COE)
  • July 8-10: Creativity at the Core Summer Institute (CCSESA, LACOE, and CDE)

Scroll down to review other cancellations.

For more information on COVID-19, click on the links below:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) | 2019 Novel Coronavirus Info

Arts as Arts Education Month

We join communities across CA in celebrating the importance of arts education. As county offices, school districts, community arts organizations spotlight the importance of arts learning for California’s diverse students we ask you too join in the movement to increase access to the arts. Got to CREATE to learn how you can get involved!

Help us in advocating for arts education for every child in every school in California!
To view and/or download two new CCSESA Arts advocacy posters use the following links: Poster #1: click here. Poster #2: click here.

To view a new one-minute video created by CREATE CA, click here.

California Arts ED Data Project

Get to know your data by exploring the California Arts Ed Data Project. This project is a collaborative effort involving the California Department of Education, CREATE CA, and Quadrant Research. It can tell you exactly how many and which art classes are offered in your county, district or school.
Click here to learn more. Click here for a 30-minute Arts Ed Data Project Tutorial for new features and dashboards

Students Experience Equity and Joy through El Sistema in Pajaro Valley Unified School District

Submitted by Audrey Sirota, Arts Coordinator, Santa Cruz County Office of Education

A promising art education revival is underway in Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) thanks to a healthy ecosystem of involved arts organizations, community partners and funders working collaboratively and enthusiastically to support visual and performing arts access and programming for all students. Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent of Schools for PVUSD believes El Sistema and the District have created more than a partnership, “We are a collective model championing the whole child through music education for students in our community. Together with Stanford SPARQ Lab, El Sistema has built a compelling body of evidence about the quality of the program, the range of developmental outcomes fostered, and the long-term outcomes that can be expected.”

In response to local stakeholder engagement, PVUSD has maintained a District-wide goal centered on visual and performing arts. To meet this goal, Local Control Accountability Plan funding is allocated to support equitable access to arts education courses and initiatives such as El Sistema, a music program engaging students after school in daily group lessons, rehearsals and performances.

El Sistema’s pilot program in PVUSD began in 2017 with exceptional bilingual instructors, Camilo Ortiz and Amalia Diaz, who share their expertise at national and international conferences. They teach using the Orff Schulwerk method and the fundamentals of El Sistema. Orff can be an effective intervention for the learning and development of underserved youth as it places emphasis on the ability to produce and create music. 

Assessments of the pilot program, which served 80 2nd to 5th grade students daily at Radcliff Elementary school, show that a larger percentage of El Sistema students demonstrated one-year’s growth in one year’s time in English and Math than their non El Sistema peers. Of significance is that fifth grade El Sistema students were outpacing  their non-El Sistema peers by 16% in math and by 30% in reading. In addition, parents and teachers noticed positive changes in socio-emotional domains among El Sistema students. 

Since 2017 and with the support of community partners, PVUSD has expanded access to students at three more schools. The El Sistema commitment in Pajaro Valley serves 360 students in three elementary schools and one special education preschool with pre-orchestra and string programs. El Sistema students are now recognized across the County for their musical talents and invited to perform at community events such as the Dia de Los Ninos in Watsonville, Monterey Bay Aquarium Education Center, Warriors’ Latino Heritage Night, Watsonville Library, UCSC Opera productions and the Santa Cruz Symphony Family Concert. As a result, parents’ involvement has skyrocketed. 

El Sistema is modeling a new approach to music education for the deserving community of Pajaro Valley. By facilitating dialogue among partners toward a common aim the landscape of opportunity for access to the arts for PVUSD students has shifted.

Check out these videos:

Click here or Video #1
Click here for Video #2

California Arts Council Releases New Strategic Framework

Framework includes racial equity statement; decision support tool; and new mission, vision, and values for the Council and state agency

SACRAMENTO, CA – California’s state arts agency and appointed Arts Council have adopted a new strategic framework to guide their work for the next seven years. The framework, titled Creative Impact: The Arts & the California Challenge, encompasses several aspects, including a new mission, vision, and values statements; a racial equity statement; a decision support tool; and a set of aspirations for potential future actions of the Council and agency.

With this framework, the California Arts Council is committing to developing an organizational culture that actively addresses barriers to equity and participation for all Californians and celebrates the connections and intersections of all our communities. The framework was developed through a yearlong process led by consultant Dr. Tamu Nolfo, involving extensive research, public participation, and engagement.

The California Arts Council has experienced tremendous growth during the last decade as it has worked to rebuild services to California communities after the agency’s state budget was cut by 97% in the early 2000s. This framework reaffirms the role of the Arts Council to strengthen the field of arts and culture and to champion the arts as essential, not optional, in addressing the challenges facing our communities today and in the future.

In the framework, Arts Council Chair Nashormeh Lindo and Executive Director Anne Bown-Crawford jointly state, “The California Arts Council holds a unique position within state government. In exercising our responsibility as stewards of state arts funding, we can exemplify government by, for, and of the people. This requires thoughtful listening, responsiveness, and collaboration-all qualities found in our new framework.”

Click here to learn more about the framework.

Click here to learn more about what is happening at the California Arts Council.

Americans for the Arts Cancel Upcoming National Arts Action Summit

Americans for the Arts has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 National Arts Action Summit, which was to take place March 30-31 in Washington, D.C., and to postpone the related Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy. The cancellation of the Summit comes out of an abundance of caution and to align with COVID-19 health recommendations and warnings issued by the Washington, D.C., government against mass gatherings in the city until March 31, 2020.  

Americans for the Arts continues to closely monitor recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal and D.C. governments as developments evolve concerning the coronavirus. Our organization cares about the health and safety of our members, stakeholders, staff, and board in communities across the country, and we understand that health, work, and travel require personal decisions that individuals must make for themselves.

Please contact us if you have further questions via email at or by calling (202) 371-2830.


Please note that while many of the listed events and professional learning opportunities are cancelled, some are currently still open for registration while organizers monitor current health announcements.

March 15-16, 2020 – CANCELLED
6th Annual AME Leadership Institute
San Diego Marriott La Jolla – La Jolla, CA

March 26, 2020 – CANCELLED
Highway 99 Arts Summit
Radisson Hotel Downtown Fresno – Fresno, CA

April 1, 2020 – CANCELLED
Rural Arts Convening
California Endowment – Sacramento, CA

April 8-11, 2020 – CANCELLED
45th Annual California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) State Conference 
Hilton San Francisco, Parc 55 Union Square, & Hotel Nikko – San Francisco, CA

April 24, 2020 – CANCELLED
Insider’s Guide to Arts Education Planning
Sacramento County Office of Education – Sacramento, CA

April 30, 2020 – Zoom Symposium
Creative Education Symposium
Humboldt County Office of Education – Eureka, CA

May 12-13, 2020 – CANCELLED
“Create” ing Momentum Together 2020 Statewide Arts Education Leadership Convening
Crocker Art Museum – Sacramento, CA 

June 15-19, 2020 
Social Emotional Learning for the Creative Teacher
Fresno County Office of Education, Fresno, CA 

June 17-18, 2020
Eastern Sierra Summer Arts Institute
Mono County 

July 8-10, 2020 – CANCELLED
6th Annual Creativity at the Core Summer Institute
Los Angeles, CA

September 9-10, 2020 * SAVE THE DATE
2020 Arts Education Partnership Annual Convening 
San Diego, CA 

September 29, 2020 (date change from March 31)
ArtsLift Conference 2020
UCR Arts – Riverside, CA

Arts Resource Links

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