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Josephine Ramirez

Josephine Ramirez

As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grantmaking strategy to “promote engagement in the arts for all Californians.” View full bio »
BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Apr 02, 2014

When we made our first grants in the New California Arts Fund in December, we knew we were asking these grantee-partners to learn with us how to successfully engage a broader and more diverse community of Californians---a process that calls for transforming and sustaining a new way of thinking and operating as arts organizations. We’ve already been inspired by the creative ideas and plans that the grantee-partners have been developing. We asked a few of them to talk about what they are excited about as they begin this journey. Watch this video to find out more; I hope you find them as inspiring as I do. The organizations in this video do not represent all of our NCAF grantee-partners. We plan to produce more videos through the course of this project to share the full range of voices and grantee-partners.



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Weaving Arts Engagement into our DNA

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Jan 10, 2014

At Irvine, we talk a lot about the “new California.” It’s shorthand for the ongoing evolution of our state, one driven by demographic shifts, innovations in technology and other forces that drive home the adage, the only constant is change.

For the past two years, our arts program has focused on encouraging arts organizations to adapt to these changes. Through our Exploring Engagement Fund, we’ve made grants to nonprofits that are experimenting with arts engagement practices and reshaping the who, how and where of engaging new and diverse audiences and participants. This type of risk innovation is essential for the future and health of the field and we will continue to invest in it.

But piloting innovation has always been just one aspect of our strategy. From the beginning, we’ve known that, to truly adapt to a new California — which is to say, a state of continual change — requires a much deeper approach: one that shifts engagement from something we do to who we are.

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Continuing the Dialogue on Our Arts Strategy

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Feb 26, 2013 1

A number of compelling conversations have been taking place over the last several weeks as a result of some very thoughtful blog posts about our Arts grantmaking strategy. (Nina Simon kicked it off with this post and then linked to related posts here.) What I find most exciting about all of this is the fact that a range of thoughtful leaders are engaging with ideas that are obviously important to Irvine, and their engagement will help make our grantmaking better. I’d like to take the opportunity to add to the dialogue as well as clarify a few points about our Arts strategy that were raised in the conversation so far.

Irvine has funded the arts since our inception because we care deeply about the importance of a healthy arts ecosystem that connects people and builds communities. We have an interest and an obligation in strengthening the arts system as a whole and we believe that the system will thrive if it focuses on engaging Californians who so far have largely been absent as audiences, visitors and donors. In becoming an adaptive, relevant and responsive field, we become more able to address the fact that the majority of Californians don’t engage with our system---not responding to this situation is clearly not the answer. Our response then, the core focus of our grantmaking that launches later this year, will be to support sustainable, core operational shifts as arts organizations expand engagement.

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New Arts Grants Explore Engagement

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Feb 19, 2013
Late last year, our board approved 19 new grants as part of our statewide Exploring Engagement Fund and another five grants as part of our more targeted Exploring Engagement Fund for Priority Regions (focused on the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley). We now have 52 grantee partners that are providing an array of exciting new arts engagement opportunities for Californians.

What I find most exciting about this latest round of grants is that it creates fresh possibilities for the field to learn about how to effectively engage more Californians in the arts. Our goal of promoting engagement can only be successful if there is a robust, nimble, responsive group of nonprofits that are actively exploring how they can engage audiences and visitors. “Business as usual” has not been working for many arts organizations that are experiencing declining audiences and revenues, and it’s gratifying to see so many groups primed to learn more about engaging their communities through these grants.

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Learning from Experiments in Arts Innovation

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Dec 05, 2012 1

Staying relevant amid a shifting landscape is an obstacle that’s very familiar in our field: arts organizations are challenged to meet the changing expectations of communities they serve. My predecessors at Irvine responded to that growing relevance gap in 2006 and launched the Arts Innovation Fund (AIF), a multiyear initiative that provided support for 19 large, established arts institutions in California to experiment with different ways they might adapt. The grants were intended to create the necessary space and freedom to try something new — and to learn from it.

We all know that a robust and vibrant arts community is essential to the general well-being of our many communities in California and beyond. And we also know that the past several decades have seen a significant overall decline in the number of people who attend arts events in California and throughout the U.S.

Findings from this initiative are now available following an independent report by Slover Linett Strategies. In keeping with the theme of innovation, we’re pleased to make an overview of these findings available in an exciting new format: an interactive infographic designed for viewing online or on your tablet. These findings are significant to arts organizations of all sizes, as well as to funders, policymakers and others who care about the vitality of the arts.

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Apply for an Arts Grant

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Nov 26, 2012 1

There’s only one week left before the December 3 deadline to apply to our Exploring Engagement Fund, and we are looking forward to reviewing the creative proposals that many arts nonprofits will submit. As we’ve noted before, this is the only opportunity to apply to the Exploring Engagement Fund until December 2013, so we hope you'll consider applying this year. For those of you that are still working on applications or thinking about applying, we strongly encourage you to review the guidelines for applying to the fund and watch two videos of our grantees describing their Exploring Engagement Fund grants.

Grants from the Exploring Engagement Fund support nonprofit organizations as they investigate new and enriching ways to engage Californians in the arts. Irvine's new Arts program strategy seeks to promote engagement in the arts for all Californians, and the Exploring Engagement Fund is one of three new funds offered to date under the new strategy. The three funds are:

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Large Arts Organizations Explore Engagement

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Oct 23, 2012

It’s an exciting time in our Arts program as we begin to see our new arts strategy made real through grantee projects! I wrote about the first statewide Exploring Engagement Fund grants — supporting small- and mid-sized organizations — back in June. Now I am pleased to announce the first grants made as part of our Exploring Engagement Fund for Large Organizations.

Earlier this month our board approved eight grants ranging in size from $520,000 to $600,000 to some of the most prominent arts organizations in California so they can experiment with new ways to engage Californians in the arts. The projects represent a commitment by these arts institutions to establish greater connection to low-income and other Californians underserved by arts nonprofits. We hope the projects spark new ways of thinking about engagement and about how arts nonprofits can adapt to changing demographics and technological changes that the arts field struggles to keep pace with.

Our strategy’s overall vision is about promoting engagement in the arts — specifically the kind of arts engagement that honors our diversity and helps us all to live well together. To accomplish this we aim to build the capacities of responsive, relevant arts nonprofits to adapt to a shifting environment, so that they can better serve and more deeply connect with all Californians. This connection to community should lead to organizational changes that help these arts groups thrive. And the people served by these groups should more strongly recognize the value of the arts as accessible and integral to community life.

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Apply for an Arts Grant

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Oct 11, 2012 1

It’s hard to believe, but a year has passed since we announced the first deadline for a grantmaking fund under our new Arts program strategy: the Exploring Engagement Fund. And today we are announcing our third round of this fund, along with the second round of our more targeted Exploring Engagement Fund for Priority Regions. The deadline to submit applications for both funds is December 3, 2012. And please note: we will now have only one round of funding per year — in December — for both funds as we streamline this grantmaking process. This means that if you miss this deadline, the next time you’ll be able to apply is December 2013.

We are excited to see the results of the many projects that we have supported or will support under the Exploring Engagement Funds as arts nonprofits investigate new and enriching ways to engage Californians in the arts. Many grantees from the first round are already getting underway with their projects and I encourage you to watch brief interviews with the leaders of two of our grantees — the AjA Project and MusicianCorps — and hear how they’re thinking about exploring engagement and why it’s important for arts organizations to adapt to the shifting arts landscape.

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Our New Arts Strategy's First Grants

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Jun 22, 2012
Nearly a year to the date that we announced a new Arts strategy that recognizes how the arts should be a vibrant force for strengthening communities, we are pleased to announce our first set of grants under this new direction. The Irvine board recently approved 20 grants as part of our Exploring Engagement Fund, which was designed to offer risk capital to encourage and fuel arts engagement.

Our new Arts strategy seeks to promote engagement in the arts for all Californians and we will support arts nonprofits that want to explore this engagement concept with us. Engaging more Californians in the arts will ultimately help organizations expand their reach and support-base and thereby contribute to their viability and relevance. Moreover, the more deeply we demonstrate the value of the arts by making them accessible and integral to community life, the more essential the arts will be in the lives of all Californians.

Here are just a few examples of the projects being supported under our Exploring Engagement Fund:

  • The Museum of Art and History at the McPherson Center will launch as many as 30 pop-up museums in the Santa Cruz region for underserved audiences to actively engage as collectors, curators and creators of mini-museums dedicated to issues and ideas that matter to them.
  • The San Diego Asian Film Foundation will experiment with "drive-out" cinema: using a van equipped with a portable screen, projector and PA system to create film venues in parking lots, parks and public squares.
  • And in Los Angeles, Diavolo Dance Theater, an internationally renowned dance company known for touring will expand its work in its hometown by establishing a new series of free, ongoing dance and movement workshops in the neighborhoods near its studio.
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Investing in Creative Placemaking

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Jun 13, 2012

A new wave of creative placemaking is underway as part of ArtPlace, an innovative partnership model of foundations, corporations and government agencies that supports community building through the arts. Irvine is pleased to support this unique program for the second year in a row, having contributed $2 million to ArtPlace to support California-based projects among those supported nationally by the initiative.

ArtPlace was created in 2010 as a partnership among 11 foundations, six banks and eight federal agencies (including the National Endowment for the Arts) to transform urban and rural communities throughout the country by using the arts as an economic driver. To date, the initiative has raised more than $50 million in support of the various projects. The most recent cycle of grants, announced Monday, provides $15.4 million in support of 47 projects that were chosen out of more than 2,200 letters of inquiry. Six of those 47 projects will take place in California.

The approach being taken by ArtPlace, known as “creative placemaking,” has emerged over the past 20 years as a promising way to increase the vitality of communities and help them grow. Irvine is pleased to support this partnership because of ArtPlace’s resonance with our belief that the arts create meaningful ongoing “bridging and bonding” connections among Californians, fostering a vibrant, inclusive society. In 2011, the National Endowment for the Arts built on its two decades of work in creative placemaking by announcing the first grants in its new Our Town program, designed to support public-private partnerships to strengthen the arts while energizing the overall community. ArtPlace takes this movement a step further, as the first major public-private partnership to encourage creative placemaking across America.

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