CENTRAL COAST — A collective group of arts agencies from the Central Coast region has been awarded a competitive $4.75 million grant to support the health, safety and resiliency of local communities through the arts.

The grant program, California Creative Corps, was developed by the California Arts Council in partnership with the state legislature. It is an economic and workforce recovery pilot program intended to support pandemic recovery and the environmental, civic and social engagement of California’s most disproportionately impacted communities.

Central Coast County Arts Partners, which includes the Arts Council for Monterey County, Arts Council Santa Cruz County, San Benito County Arts Council, San Luis Obispo County Arts Council, Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture and the Ventura County Arts Council, will share the multimillion-dollar grant.

“It has been a great collaboration working with other local Arts Councils on this grant application, and we all look forward to working with our local artists to develop and launch this campaign,” said Jacquie Atchison, executive director of the Arts Council for Monterey County.

Using a variety of art forms, including visual, performing and traditional arts, artists will advance positive community outcomes by creating locally-focused, contextually and culturally sensitive public messaging and work.

The initiative represents an unprecedented collaboration between county-designated arts agencies from all six counties. The arts agencies will work cooperatively to support program administration and serve as primary partners, service providers and communication conduits in their respective geographies.

Modeled in the style of the Works Progress Administration, the grant funding will support a media, outreach and engagement campaign designed to increase: firstly, public health awareness messages to stop the spread of Covid-19; secondly, public awareness related to water and energy conservation, climate mitigation and emergency preparedness, relief and recovery; thirdly, civic engagement that includes election participation; and fourthly, social justice and community engagement.

Projects are intended to cultivate trust, belonging, community cohesion and interdependence — particularly in communities that are most impacted. Communities located in the lowest quartile of the California Healthy Places Index will be prioritized.

The scope of responsibility includes:

  • Implementing culturally and discipline-specific engagement strategies to priority communities and trusted culture bearers;
  • Mentoring — through professional development, workshops or other opportunities — individual artists, cultural practitioners and nonprofit organizations;
  • Increasing visibility of the work of artists, cultural practitioners and nonprofit organizations;
  • Engaging in robust outreach to ensure comprehensive geographic reach for sub-grantee organizations, artists and cultural practitioners; and
  • Managing the application processes for artists and sub-grantee organizations.

The program will be implemented in multiple phases; the regional guidelines and application process will be released in fall 2022. All funds will be distributed by Sept. 30, 2024.

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