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Orcutt Union School District Uses Schedule Rotation to Support Music Education
November 30, 2017

The Challenge: How to deploy limited resources to serve high needs students and establish a sustainable elementary music program that serves every student

The Strategy: Create a schedule rotation of P.E., music and intervention to achieve smaller class size and arts instruction for all students 

The Story: The Orcutt Union School District, located in Santa Barbara county, includes five elementary schools, two middle schools, one K-8 school and two K-8 and one high school charter schools. Faced with the challenge of a tight budget and looking for a way to address the needs of a student population with a high number of students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the district needed to use their existing funds in a creative way. 

Leadership at The Orcutt Union School District came up with a strategy to tie together music instruction and intervention instruction in their district Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). The plan established new music classes taught by credentialed music teachers to decrease class size...

Moreno Valley Unified School District Includes Students in Arts Planning Process
October 26, 2017

The Challenge: How to Get Student Input for District Arts Planning  

The Strategy: Invite Exceptional High School Seniors to Attend Arts Planning Meetings

The Story: Shania Carden, a high school senior in the Moreno Valley Unified School District, was never expecting to be invited to participate in the school district strategic arts planning process. “[It] was a surprise to me,” Shania explained, “but I was very eager to do so! I was very interested in being there to learn what was behind the scenes in the arts planning process.” 

She received this invitation because Greg Solomon, district Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Coordinator, understood the importance of including student voices in the process. “They are the only people who can describe what it is like to be in our arts classrooms,” he said. Greg identified students for the arts planning committee by reaching out to arts teachers in the district. He asked teachers to recommend seniors who could speak about their experiences in arts programs. As a four-year member, historian, and president of the Valley View High School Choir program...

Framing the Arts for Success in California Schools
October 2, 2017

Artspiration invites you to join representatives from California’s leading arts education and advocacy organizations: Create CA, California Alliance for Arts Education and CCSESA Arts Initiative and the California Department of Education, for a special arts education workshop.


  • Understand the background and history of the Blueprint for Creative Schools and the CREATE CA initiative
  • Explore the Arts Education Data Project and its role in ensuring equitable access to high-quality, standards based arts education
  • Discuss the strategy of creating a district-wide arts plan and hear examples from the field
  • Build knowledge of why and how arts education meets the eight state LCFF Priorities
  • Receive valuable updates on state and federal arts legislation that impacts school and district policies

Date: Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Time: 11:30 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. (Lunch Provided)

Location: Santa Clara County Office of Education

Cost: Free


Riverside Unified School District embraces Community Partnerships!
September 18, 2017

Guest author: Peggy Burt, Arts Now Program Director

The Challenge: How to engage and gather input from the community for school district arts planning

The Strategy: An invitation to a meeting at the Mayor’s office!

The Story: On a lovely day in Riverside, August 15, 2017, a passionate group of arts education providers and supporters gathered in the Mayor’s Ceremonial Chamber at Riverside City Hall. As soon as you stepped into the room, you could feel the buzz of excitement! This was a moment of collaborative opportunity and an invitation to contribute to the work of enhancing and strengthening the arts in the Riverside Unified School District. Holding it at the Mayor’s office underlined the value placed on the community’s input.

Annemarie Guzy, Visual and Performing Arts Specialist, warmly welcomed the attendees. “This is a very momentous time for Riverside Unified.  With renewed support for the arts from our incredible Board, our school district is very excited to be building a future for the arts, and helping all of our students to reach their...

Update to Action Alert: Support the Arts in ESSA Plan
August 31, 2017

Thank you to everyone who sent letters to the California Department of Education requesting the inclusion of language about the Visual and Performing Arts in the state plan to implement Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We have been in touch with the California Department of Education to raise our concerns about this issue and received the following response from Barbara Murchison, ESSA State Lead at the California Department of Education:

The current draft of the ESSA State Plan, available on the California Department of Education California ESSA State Plan Drafts webpage, does reference the VAPA standards and the state’s intentions to support the implementation of these standards, particularly in the Title II, Part A section of the document.

Perhaps more important, the ESSA State Plan is fundamentally an application for federal funds—not a master plan for P-12 education—and the State Board of Education has directed us to meet, not exceed, plan requirements. The template does not require California to describe how it is supporting VAPA education, so the document already goes beyond what is required to signal California’s...

From 1 Art Teacher to 20
August 31, 2017

The Challenge: An Arts Plan Was Never Fully Implemented

The Strategy: Community Engagement

The Story: When the Santa Cruz County Alliance for Arts Education (SCCAAE) launched in 2012, there was longstanding support in the community for arts, but great disparities between arts offerings across school districts in the county. The largest district in the county, Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD), had an arts plan in place, but had never fully implemented it. Among its 17 elementary schools there was only .2 Full Time Equivalent visual arts teacher.

At that time there was longstanding support in the community for arts, but great disparities between arts offerings across school districts in the county. The largest district in the county, Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD), had an arts plan in place, but had never fully implemented it....

Measuring Success: State of Arts Education Survey
August 30, 2017

The goal of the Arts Now Campaign is to establish the expectation that every district is responsible for providing their students with a high quality, comprehensive education that includes a strong arts program, complete with instruction by credentialed arts teachers as well as arts integration strategies being implemented across the curriculum. But how do we measure our progress toward this goal?

This fall we are launching a new, more robust set of metrics that includes both quantitative measures such as number of participants and event survey results as well as qualitative tools such as open ended responses to surveys and interviews.

With the launch of the Arts Education Data Project, arts enrollment data for every school in the state is widely available and easy to use. This provides us with a clear baseline as we begin our work with individual districts and counties. In addition, the Alliance has developed a rubric called the State of Arts Education Survey to measure a district’s capacity to deliver arts education...

Implementing a Strategic Arts Plan in Napa
June 27, 2017

Guest author: Robin Hampton, Local Advocacy Field Manager

The Challenge: How to keep a strategic arts plan from ending up in a drawer

The Strategy: Engage community and stakeholders through events and updates

The Story: The Arts Council Napa Valley (ACNV) Education Alliance was launched in 2013 to assess the state of arts education in Napa County. A countywide assessment by this public-private alliance resulted in the drafting of an Arts Education Master Plan, which presents a comprehensive framework for the development of TK-12 sequential, standards-based arts education curriculum for Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD). The NVUSD Board unanimously voted to adopt the NVUSD Arts Education Master Plan in June 2016.

The Plan follows best practices, amplifies existing programs and incorporates bold and...

Strategic Communications with District Leadership: Creating Arts Champions!
May 30, 2017

Guest Author: Peggy Burt, Senior Advisor, Arts Planning Initiative

The Challenge: How to communicate strategically with district leadership to demonstrate progress in arts education.

The Strategy: Structured, reflective, brief monthly reports to leadership, turning district leaders into arts champions!

The Story: The coordinators of Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA coordinators) as well as other arts leaders and arts educators in school districts often find that their work is well known by some in the district, but almost “invisible” to others.

In an environment where information is often “information overload,” how can we be strategic about getting the facts and the stories to decision makers who have influence around arts education for all students in the district?

A few years back, I had the honor of working as the VAPA coordinator for a small district in Los Angeles County. The superintendent was warm, collegial and very open to communications. I started writing a brief monthly update to keep him informed about all of the progress and successes around...

Building Relationships with School Leaders in San Benito County
April 26, 2017

Arts Now Community: San Benito County

Guest Author: Amanda Chiado, Program Manager, San Benito County Arts Council & San Benito County Arts Education Alliance

The Challenge: How to build on collaboration between a school district and community organization

The Strategy: Developing 1:1 relationships with key school leaders

The Story: The San Benito County Arts Council is a key community partner in providing arts education programming to their county’s largest and most underserved school district, Hollister Elementary School District (HESD). For the last four years, they have garnered district support and funding for their comprehensive Arts in Education Program, which they have translated into direct programming at each of the district’s 11 schools. 

In 2016-17, the Arts Council joined the Arts Now Communities program with the goal of sustaining and increasing district funding for arts education from HESD and to begin to build their local Arts Education Alliance. With a new superintendent, the San Benito County Arts...