California Arts Council

State of California

CREATE CA: Restoring the Arts to Schools

The CREATE CA work is paying off

Published: 09-19-2013

The following is an article from the CREATE CA leadership group. Click here to view as a PDF. 

Arts education in California classrooms is receiving some much needed attention by a group of educators, artists, and business leaders through the Core Reforms Engaging Arts to Educate coalition, known as CREATE CA.

For the past two years, this group has been working strategically throughout the state to, in the words of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, "foster a Renaissance in arts education" for California schools. Their work is paying off for our students.

These efforts are building from the foundational work completed by California's team to the 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Education Leaders Institute. California's six-member team developed a challenge statement to guide its work. California should "ensure each student reaches his or her full potential by broadening California's educational vision, policy, and practices to promote innovation, economic development, and creativity."

The California Team members understood that six people could not do this work alone in a state this populous, geographically large, and diverse. They returned committed to creating a coalition to build political will for arts education.

A coalition, CREATE CA, was created to work together to leverage and complement the work of others addressing the full inclusion of arts into the California public education system. The coalition has engaged in discussions, planning, and collaboration with a variety of organizations, associations and interested parties.

The four founding organizations, the California Alliance for Arts Education, California Arts Council, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, and the California Department of Education have convened several statewide meetings with over 600 participants.

Subcommittees made up of members of the larger group continue to move this important work forward in nine key policy areas. These include: Collaborative Relationships, Funding Sources, Public Accountability, 21st Century Curriculum, Business and Industry, Theatre and Dance Credentials, Teaching Artists, Professional Learning, and Diversity and Inclusion.

One significant milestone for the group is the creation of the Arts Education Task Force Report and the soon to be published Blueprint for Creative Schools: How the Arts and Creative Education Can Transform California's Classrooms.

These documents, will describe the key policy recommendations that will assist State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, educators, artists, and business leaders in bringing, not only the arts, but innovation and creativity back into the classroom.

CREATE CA has identified priorities and opportunities for collective impact in arts education that it will seek to implement over the next twelve months.

At the most recent statewide convening, held in Fresno in May 2013, participants began the process of aligning CREATE CA's work by identifying and prioritizing actions for the key areas and forming new working groups to continue the momentum.

The work is continuing to move forward and additional initiatives are being realized. Some examples of actions the subgroups are currently focused on are:

• Work to restore the Theatre and Dance Single Subject Credential for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) highly qualified teachers
• Bring together leaders in the field of arts and education to better support professional partnerships between teaching artists, K-12 credentialed teachers and school administrators
• Clarify uses of categorical funding (Title I, Title II, Title III, etc.) to school administrators for the use of research-based arts strategies for increasing student engagement and achievement
• Expand the Distinguished Schools program to include Exemplary Arts and Arts, Media and Entertainment programs
• Leverage philanthropic funding and build business partner connections
• Provide professional learning opportunities for educators connecting the Common Core State Standards to the Arts
• Prepare to align California's Visual and Performing Arts Standards to the National Arts Standards
• Strengthen connections between the Arts and Career Technical Education
• Raise awareness of the value of creativity and the arts in achieving multicultural understanding and academic results for diverse learners
• Identify Model Career Technical Education programs in the Arts, Media and Entertainment industry sector
• Analyze and share data on student participation in visual and performing arts courses in relation to economic and cultural diversity

Collaboration between business and education leaders has been inspiring to the CREATE CA group. CREATE CA has reached out to the business community in California and the business community has responded positively. Business leaders in California, such as the two quoted below, understand the importance of the arts and creativity.

"The rapidly evolving global economy demands a dynamic and creative workforce. The arts and its related businesses are responsible for billions of dollars in cultural exports for this country. It is imperative that we continue to support the arts and arts education both on the national and local levels. The strength of every democracy is measured by its commitment to the arts." -Charles Segars, former CEO of Ovation

"GE hires a lot of engineers. We want young people who can do more than add up a string of numbers and write a coherent sentence. They must be able to solve problems, communicate ideas, and be sensitive to the world around them. Participation in the arts is one of the best ways to develop these abilities." - Clifford V. Smith, President of the General Electric Foundation

CREATE CA seeks to expand participation in work groups, as wider participation is essential to creating public will to ensure that each one of California's 6.2 million students has access to a high-quality arts education every single day.

If you would like to be involved or if you want more information, please visit our Facebook page located at A new web site,, will also launch this fall.



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