Dance and Theatre Credentials – Coming Back???

Let’s hope this will come to fruition – California with dance and theatre credentials to identify qualified teachers!

Just had to share the link to a recent op-ed piece by former California Arts Council Chair Malissa Shriver on the need for these credentials. They disappeared in 1970 and need to be brought back.

Should note here…this is one of the proposals created by the Arts Education Task Force which created the Blueprint for Creative Schools.

Always Dream Foundation Reading Adventure

IMG_1945Last Saturday, Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation hosted its 1st (of many) reading event here in the Bay Area. The foundation, focused on early literacy, held a daylong literacy and arts event at San Jose’s Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.  IMG_1949

IMG_1958Artspiration was in the house to help organize the event. Four art stations were set up with activities for the more than 1500 children in attendance. One of the more popular events was the bat mask where children were able to creatively design a mask and wear it home.

Another was the snake station, where students focused on patterning to decorate their creations, and then cut it out.

Celebrity storytelling was a highlight on the stage mc’ed by NBC’s Diane Dwyer. Footage of the event can be viewed here.  IMG_1953

The Santa Clara County Office of Education was proud to support  this year’s event and looks forward to our future work with the Always Dream Foundation and with Happy Hollow Park and Zoo. The new installation of artwork will be up by the end of September.    IMG_1951

Creativity and Commerce

The Huffington Post ran an article today on the arts, but more specifically creativity and its impact on the business world.

This is a MUST see…so please click HERE.

In the Silicon Valley, the heart of the business world, creativity is certainly a much-needed and harder-to-find commodity. Let’s hope our work with Artspiration changes some of that.

We can’t just talk about a 21st century, creative workforce. We must put words to action.

Jackson Elementary Goes Music/Math


Wondering about this picture? Its the chart with the classes that have mastered piano playing on different songs in the Let’s Play Piano curriculum.  But its so much more than that…    

Jackson Elementary School, under the leadership of Principal Patrick Buchser, has been transformed into a math and music school.  Morgan Hill Unified School District Superintendent Dr Wes Smith and Buchser reopened the school in Fall 2012 as an elementary with a clear focus…and focus it has!  

I had the opportunity to visit Jackson last week and to say I was “amazed” is an understatement. If I lived in Morgan Hill, I’d be sleeping on the front steps until I could get my children into the program.   

Pictures speak a thousand words, and those from my Jackson visit can’t speak the volumes that need to be shared about the quality of instructors and admirable leadership at Jackson. Students are receiving music instructor from first-year teacher (and superstar) Amanda Knudtzon.  

She is using The Mind Institute program for Music this year and I was very impressed with the skills acquired by the students since late Fall. They are able to easily demonstrate their work using 5 fingers on the keyboard and can write music in different ways.  

ALL students were engaged when I visited, and I stayed a while so the novelty of a visitor wasn’t why they were focused and participatory. Ms. Knudtzon has a gift. She commands herself in front of a class better than most seasoned teachers and shares history and poetry while covering music, both vocal instrumental.


The students at Jackson are clearly focused and engaged. When I spoke with them, they were energized and sincere – they love their music classes. More importantly, they love their teacher.   

Yeah…I can see why….


Downtown Doors – Judgment Day!

Today was judgment day for the Downtown Doors program…literally!  

Downtown Doors is sponsored by the San Jose Downtown Association, under the leadership of Blage Zelalich. This year’s competition welcomed 160 different pieces of middle and high school student artwork. 16 high schools and 2 middle schools submitted pieces into this year’s competition

And the winners are….well….its a little too early to make that announcement but here’s what I can share.    

After 4 rounds of high pressured judging, 25 pieces of artwork from both public and private school students were selected. They ranged from hand drawings to photography to other assorted digital images. Students will be honored on Friday, June 7th at the San Jose Museum of Art.

Can’t wait to see the artwork that we selected on downtown doors and utility boxes!  

Assembly Bill 580 Passes Round One

California Assembly Bill 580, an arts-funding bill, moved a step closer to passage as advocates push ahead with the more optimistic economic environment.   

This bill, introduced by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D- Sherman Oaks), would provide some $75 million a year from the general fund to go to the California Arts Council. The bill made it out of the committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media this week on a 4-2 vote.

Next step? Appropriations. This is where a similar bill in 2009 died due to a challenging economic environment.   

This funding would increase funding to the California Arts Council significantly, considering its current allocation is $1 million/year. But just 12 years ago, in 2000-2001, the Arts Council was funded at a level of $32 million a year! Then Governor Davis slashed funding for the Arts Council during his terms by 94%.

Current funding for the arts in California is approximately 14 cents per year for every resident in California, ranking our state dead last…next to Texas (15 cents/resident) and Georgia (16 cents/resident).   

We’re following this closely. We’re interested. And while we’re not taking a stance or making any recommendations here, we are hopeful that arts funding increases in California. Standing by…

CreaTV Seeks Teacher Input

CreaTV hosted a teacher focus group meeting on April 10th, 2013. The goal? Find ways to get more educational programming on its stations to promote public education as well as identify more ways to get equipment into the hands of students.

CreaTV is a San Jose-based public access television station. By the end of this school year, its MAP Grants program will have put close to $1 million in professional equipment into the hands of students in the San Jose area.

Click HERE for more information on Channel 28 and its services for education…and check out some great television shows while you’re at it!

Young Artist Showcase 2013

More than 350 pieces of public school artwork were submitted into this year’s Young Artist Showcase. Judging by 17 respected education, government and arts leaders took place on Friday, April 5th. Special thanks for judging goes out to Assemblymember Paul Fong and his Chief of Staff in his district, Leslie Bulbak, for their assistance.

Is the suspense killing you? We’re sure it is. But…we can give you a little sneak peak into the selection and let you know the students will be honored in a ceremony here at the County Office on September 12th, 2013 from 4:30-6 pm.

Dozens of tables were set up in the San Jose Room (okay…it was really more like 51 tables) with groups of artwork based on grade ranges (preK, K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, and adult special education).

What a success! Thirty-two pieces of artwork were selected for the permanent collection that will be on display here at the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Fifteen school districts were represented in the selections, including: Cupertino, Mtn View Whisman, Santa Clara, Campbell, Campbell UHSD, Lakeside, Milpitas, Cambrian, Evergreen, Union, Orchard, Berryessa, Saratoga, San Jose, SCCOE.

For the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo arts program, seventeen pieces were chosen to be on a one-year display that will be in their Picnic Basket area. The pieces hail from eleven different districts including: Milpitas, Berryessa, Union, Cambrian, Moreland, Santa Clara, Cupertino, Lakeside, Santa Clara, Saratoga, East Side.

We were tickled pink that this year’s entries were more than 75% of what we had entered in recent years, courtesy of great outreach from staff and parent networks throughout the valley.

Can’t wait for 2014!

Assembly Bill 580

We are sharing this information as many of you ask about pending legislation that involves the arts.

Assembly Bill 580 is a new legislative bill that would increase appropriations for the California Arts Council (CAC) from $1M to $75M. It will be formally introduced to the state assembly this Tuesday, April 9 at 9 a.m.   

This bill’s passage would have an enormous impact on the Bay Area performing arts community and communities throughout the state. The funds from AB 580 would bring California’s per-capita arts spending up to 12th in the nation, or roughly $2.00 per person. The CAC is currently doing strategic planning to determine which of its programs would be revived if the bill passes.
If you want to weigh in on the bill, you can do that via Californians for the ArtsCalifornia Arts Advocates or the California Theatre Network.