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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 »

What New Arts Engagement Takes

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Jul 23, 2014 2

Many arts organizations are actively seeking ways to ensure their future relevance by better responding to a new California abundant with demographic change. In a state already known for its immense immigrant population and cultural diversity, we're experiencing an exponential growth of Latino and Asian populations. In 2010, these two groups comprised 51 percent of California’s population, and by 2020 this will increase to 55 percent. Our ability to adapt to the majority presence of these Californians is crucial to the vitality of the nonprofit arts field, yet these and other underserved communities have remained largely untouched by the enormous civic, social, and emotional benefits arts organizations provide.

We know that the more that arts professionals and volunteers meaningfully engage new and different audiences and participants in their work, the more resilient the organization becomes, and the more responsive and valuable it is to communities.

We also know that many organizations in our field succeed at this work brilliantly; and it was with this in mind that we commissioned a study to analyze and profile just how they do it. As a result we have new research to share about the qualities of arts organizations that are successfully engaging new and diverse participants.

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San Diego Symphony Shares Your Story, Your Song

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
User is currently offline
| Jul 17, 2014

Last week, the San Diego Symphony and 18 community groups collaborated on a multi-media performance as part of the Your Song, Your Story project.

The project, funded by the Irvine Foundation, is a two-year effort to engage residents of traditionally underserved San Diego neighborhoods to collaborate in the creation of a new orchestral work by contributing their individual stories and songs.

Below, we have assembled links to recent video clips of, and conversations about, the project's culminating concerts.

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Arts Grantees Talk about Engaging and Adapting

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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