California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

April 13, 2011Mary Beth Barber

California Arts Council to participate in the Education Leaders Institute from the National Endowment for the Arts

Core team of education, foundation, and industry leaders from the Golden State to focus on arts education as a driver of the creative economy

Sacramento -

The California Arts Council will join dozens of national education leaders as part of the Education Leaders Institute sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in Chicago on May 11-13, 2011, to further arts education goals for both the state and the nation. The California team will have six representatives at the convening, but will be advised by a much larger team of experts in arts education, the creative economy, and the educational field. 

This unique coalition will explore and advocate for robust arts education in K-12 schools nationally to further and properly prepare the U.S. workforce of the future. Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Chair of the California Arts Council, is one of the six key California representatives at the Education Leaders Institute in Chicago in May.

"This is an unprecedented coalition of partners coming together in California to address the question of how to best prepare the workforce of tomorrow, specifically through arts education in our schools and colleges," said Feruzzi Shriver. "Dozens of California experts will participate in the advisory part of the process -- foundation leaders, creative industry leaders, educational scholars, PTA representatives, K-12 teachers, and representatives from major state universities and community colleges as well as art schools. The diversity of the experts and dynamics of the group could lead to real change in arts education in California K-12 education."

This is the sixth annual Education Leaders Institute from the NEA, where arts education experts from different states convene to discuss a shared arts education challenge and create strategies to strengthen their state's arts education policies. These teams will discuss solutions for intractable issues, such as improving networks of educators and arts professionals, fostering innovative approaches to curriculum design and implementation, and sustaining and increasing public arts education at the district, state, and national levels. The California team includes six core team members, as well as dozens of California education experts and stakeholders who serve in an advisory capacity and work throughout April to help prepare for the conference in May.

The California ELI team will focus on visual and performing arts education as a critical component to the future of California's economy and viable workforce. California is a unique state in both geography and population diversity, and, if it were a country, would have the tenth largest economy in the world. Its economy is dependent upon industries that focus on innovation and creativity, from the computer industry centered in northern California to the creative arts and entertainment industry centered in the south. Business leaders have long championed creativity, adaptability, collaboration and critical thinking as key components to an innovative workforce to maintain California's competitive advantage, in addition to a strong foundation in science, technology and mathematics.

Members of the press may contact Mary Beth Barber at 916-322-6588,, or Marilyn Nielsen at 916-322-6555 or More information on the NEA's Education Leaders Institute may be found on the NEA website at The six ELI team members for the May meeting are listed below, and a list of the dozens of advisors on the supporting team is available upon request.

Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction -- a former state Senator, Torlakson focused on educational reform, championed Career Technical Education, and fought to provide both real world educational experiences for students and a more authentic statewide assessment that was both academically rigorous and relevant to the twenty-first century workforce. SEE ELI PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT

Amy Shimson-Santo, media expert, author and education researcher -- Shimshon-Santo holds advanced degrees in Urban Planning (PhD., M.A.) and is a recipient of the Presidents' Honor Roll for Service Learning. She has worked in art and educational settings from elementary to post-secondary education at the University of California, and serves as a voice for both the education research and media communications industry. Shimson-Santo also has 20 years of experience in community economic development.

Nidya Parades, Associate Director, Special Education Advocacy Clinic at Pepperdine University -- Parades is a recent graduate of Pepperdine School of Law and current Associate Director of the Special Education Advocacy Clinic at Pepperdine University. Parades has worked as an advocate for English Learners, and was an English Learner student in elementary school in Los Angeles. As a young adult and recent student in California public schools, Parades gives the team insight into the challenges and successes from a student's perspective.

Anne Bown-Crawford, Arcata Art Institute at Arcata High School -- Bown-Crawford is the founder and lead teacher as well as the administrator of the Arcata Art Institute, a Career Technical Art program within a larger comprehensive high school setting. Bown-Crawford also serves on a number of local workforce advisory boards, presents regularly at Art and Career Technical Education conferences throughout California, and represents a rural and geographically isolated population in the far northern part of the state.

Larry Powell, Superintendent, Fresno County Office of Education -- Powell is an active member of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, active in the agri-business community, and has served as a member of the State Board for the Association of California School Administrators. Powell also serves on academic and educational advisory boards at California State University-Fresno.

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Chair, California Arts Council -- Feruzzi Shriver, as Chair of the California Arts Council, provides insight and background on the creative economy and creative business needs, as well as the perspective of arts leaders and cultural institutions in California. She has championed the need for a robust visual and performing arts education in California's public elementary and secondary schools since she was first appointed to the California Arts Council in 2005 by Governor Schwarzenegger.

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The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the Arts and Creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Vice Chair William Turner, Wylie Aitken, Michael Alexander, Andrew Green, Adam Hubbard, Charmaine Jefferson, Terry Lenihan, and Susan Steinhauser.

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