Arts Now Communities

Arts Now Communities receive leadership development, strategic assistance and communications tools from the California Alliance to support coalition building, strategic planning and arts education advocacy. Now in over thirty California communities, these coalitions convene business partners, community, arts and parent organizations to stand together for quality, accessible arts education for all students. Below are the most recent blogs from Arts Now Communities. For more information contact Robin Hampton

  • Webinar: Introduction to Arts Now Communities (formerly the Local Advocacy Network). Slides.


Coalition Blog


Meet LAHS Dance Director – RIKKI JONES

-by Donna Chinn, Los Alamitos Alliance for Arts Education

Mrs. Rikki Jones is the founding artistic director of Los Al Dance, where she oversees 5 levels of dance ranging from beginners to advanced.  Mrs. Jones has led the dance program for all of its 15 years. She specializes in jazz technique, but includes ballet, hip hop, character and lyrical styles.  
She conceives two full-length themed dance shows annually, for which she is in charge of the narrative, original choreography, choice of music, costumes, and lighting, Some of her past shows have been “America’s Favorite Dancer”, a reality show in the style of American Idol; “Happily Ever After” a fairy tale mash-up; and “The Piano”, which followed the “life” of a grand piano in its various homes over the years.  The shows are so popular that they usually sell out.
She arranges additional performance opportunities for her most advanced students, such as Back to School Night, Homecoming, Open House, the CSULB Pyramid and a local invitational. The school Dance Team takes part in two convention - competition events each year, where the students participate in master classes.  Mrs. Jones recently added a Student Choreography Showcase at end of the year.

Los Al Arts Educators Honored by OC Dept of Education


- by Donna Chinn, Los Al Arts; Sally Neiser & Amber Lee, LAUSD

The Los Al school district has a long and rich history of excellence in the arts.  Our strong programs in music, theatre, dance, and visual art are a result of leadership by our many dedicated arts educators.  Earlier this month, the Orange County Music and Arts Educators of the Orange County Department of Education presented their 2014 awards to “honor the accomplishments of teachers who make a difference in the lives of students through arts education”.  LAUSD is especially proud to have multiple OCMAA winners this year.  

Suzanne McElderry – Mrs. Suzanne McElderry received the award for Vocal Music - Elementary because she makes a difference in the lives of students and staff through arts education. In her role as music specialist at McGaugh, Mrs. McElderry makes music come alive in her classroom in part by connecting it to other disciplines and content students are learning.  As a result, students receive a highly rich arts experience in her classroom, but also in their core content classrooms. 

When upper grade students were studying the westward movement, Suzanne wrote and directed a westward movement themed musical.  The knowledge she gained from collaborating 

LAHS PTSA Reflections Program Honors Student Artists

-by Barbara LeMaster, 2013-14 LAHS PTSA Reflections Chair; photo courtesy Donna Chinn

The PTSA Reflections Program has honored four students at Los Alamitos High School for their achievement in the arts.  Donnovan Hill won the category of “Literature” with his piece titled “Life Changes”.  Delaney LeMaster-Dwyer won the category of “Dance Choreography” with her artwork titled “Believe, Dream, Inspire”. Serena O’Sullivan won the category of “Visual Arts” with her artwork titled “Believe, Dream, Inspire”.  Noah Patterson won the category of “Photography” with his work titled “Sanoset”.  Colin Brown-Greaves won second place in the “Visual Arts” category.  Hailey Morales won third place.  Zachary Harwood, Noel Limfueco, Shannon Ortiz tied for Honorable Mention 1, Riko Martin IV, Taryn Lee, Christen Drake were tied for Honorable Mention 2, Lindsey d’Arnaud , Taryn Lee (another submission), Lauren Hopkins Holly Fosmire, Kelly Peterson were tied for Honorable Mention 3 in the Visual Arts category.  Kevin Christensen won second place in the Literature category, and Elizabeth Guldimann won third place.  Matthew Eclevia and Elizabeth Guldimann tied for second place in the Photography category, Elizabeth entered other pieces that earned third place and honorable mention.  All four winners were advanced to the PTA fourth district competition.  Delaney LeMaster-Dwyer was first runner up in her category, and Donnovan Hill won an honorable mention.

Guest Blog - Planting Seeds of Change: Poetry in Schools

Why not hear from the supporters and committee members that make Santa Cruz County's Alliance for Arts Education so great? Here's the first guest blog post from Magdalena Montagne, poet, teacher, and Santa Cruz Alliance for Arts Education member:

Viewpoints: Why teaching art to our children matters

By Joe Landon, The Sacramento BEE

We now have an opportunity to bring arts education back into our schools in a significant way. After years of focus on standardized tests and a narrowing of the curriculum under No Child Left Behind, the “local control funding formula” sets new goals for local districts that prioritize student engagement, parent involvement, school climate, student achievement, a broad course of study – all things that the arts are known to contribute to.

In the coming months, as school boards seek input and develop their local control and accountability plans, local advocates have an opportunity to provide a teaching moment about the benefits of arts education in their district.

“As we begin to uncover the consequences of the last 10 to 15 years of the widening education gap, I hope we begin to bank on students’ abilities and potential by investing in arts learning and professional development, and this go around: truly not leave any child behind.”

Read more here:


- by Donna Chinn, Los Al Arts

 Los Al Drama Director Stacy Castiglione, known to her students as “Mrs. C , is new to our district, but she has 10 years of teaching experience, plus an extensive background in various aspects of theatre.  She oversees the high school drama program of approx. 60 intermediate & advanced drama students plus 2 beginning drama classes.  She has set out an ambitious schedule of 6 dramatic productions for her first year, which includes a musical. She coaches students for theatre festivals, the Cappies (Critics & Awards 

Escondido sm{ART} Festival 2014



The Escondido Alliance for Arts Education Thanks all of the sponsors and participating arts organizations

"sm"ART Festival at the Center for the Arts

Unmasking Creativity: Advocacy Breakfast Wrap-up

An amazing event and group of allies!

Great coverage by the Santa Cruz Sentinel: Click here.

For a video of the full event, click here.