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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
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| 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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In the News: May 2014

BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
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| Jun 01, 2014

In May 2014, the following published articles mentioned the work of the Foundation or our grantees:

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Irvine Board Approves $5.5 Million in Grants

BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
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| Mar 17, 2014

The James Irvine Foundation Board of Directors approved $5.5 million in grants at its quarterly meeting last week. Of the 10 approved grants, seven grants are within Arts, two grants are within California Democracy and one is in our Youth program.

Here are some highlights of the new grants:

Exploring Engagement Fund for Larger Organizations — The Arts program made grants to six organizations totaling $3.6 million within the Exploring Engagement Fund for Larger Organizations. These grants will support experimentation by each organization on how to increase arts engagement in a new or deepened way.

Voter and Civic Engagement — Our California Democracy program made grants to two organizations as part of the Voter and Civic Engagement priority. One grant, for $800,000, went to Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education to support voter mobilization and civic engagement activities among 500,000 voters across 12 California counties.

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Picture This

BY Chris Henrikson
Chris Henrikson
Chris Henrikson is the Founder and Executive Director of Street Poets Inc.
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| Feb 12, 2014

After writing for a few minutes, a passerby records his contribution to a community poem along Central Avenue in South Los Angeles. Street Poets' Poetry in Motion van, supported by the Irvine Foundation's Exploring Engagement Fund, is a mobile poetry performance venue and recording studio designed to inspire creativity in unexpected places.

Photo Credit: Todd Bigelow

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In the News: August 2013

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Sep 06, 2013

In August 2013, the following published articles mentioned the work of the Foundation or our grantees:

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In the News: July 2013

BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
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| Aug 01, 2013

Arts Grantees Explore Arts Engagement

BY Jeanne Sakamoto
Jeanne Sakamoto
Jeanne Sakamoto has worked at Irvine since 2004 and helps oversee many of the Fo
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| Jun 18, 2013
Last Friday, our board approved 27 new grants as part of our statewide Exploring Engagement Fund and another six grants as part of our more targeted Exploring Engagement Fund for Priority Regions (focused on the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley). We are now partnering with 86 grantees across the state to experiment with a wide variety of new arts engagement opportunities for Californians.

With this latest round of grants, organizations from Ukiah to Fresno to San Diego will be experimenting over the next two years with new models of arts engagement. While each project is distinct to the organization’s expertise, community and artistic discipline, we saw some recurring themes across this diverse set of grants.

For many organizations, Exploring Engagement Fund projects will help them connect to specific types of audiences and participants that may have had little contact with the organization or the art form it presents. The Anaheim Ballet, for example, will connect to new audiences in new ways through a series of unexpected, brief dance performances and participatory instruction sessions in nontraditional spaces during peak pedestrian traffic times, attempting to spark interest in and conversation about their art form.

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From the President: Which Way California?

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Apr 25, 2013 2

Dear Friends,

Here are four views of California from the national media, just in the past month:

“Far from presiding over a Greek-style crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown is proclaiming a comeback.”
Paul Krugman column, The New York Times, March 31

“You can laugh at the sunbaked barbarians, even wish them ill. But you should not fail to see in their fledgling renaissance another chapter in the American experiment, no less daring than the Golden Gate Bridge or the castle that Hearst erected at continent’s edge.”
Timothy Egan column, The New York Times, March 28

“The more powerful message is where people are going when they leave states like California and New York, two states ranked among the “least free” in a recent study by the Mercatus Institute. They are going to red states where, according to Mercatus, there is greater individual freedom, less government regulation and lower taxes. Earth to Jerry Brown: California, you have a problem.”
David Davenport column, Forbes.com, April 11

“But, in the end, Brown has done little but slap a temporary, inadequate patch on a dysfunctional system of financing and service provision that needs a fundamental rethink if California is to build a better future.”
Matt Miller column, The Washington Post, April 4

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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
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| 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
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| 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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From the President: Transparency 2.0

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Feb 13, 2013 5

Dear Friends,

Within the past few weeks, I have read with interest the observations of a number of active bloggers in the arts field whom I have come to respect and admire: Nina Simon, Diane Ragsdale, Clay Lord and Barry Hessenius. Each of them has blogged on aspects of the Irvine Foundation’s new arts strategy and, in doing so, has contributed to a robust dialogue that has played out on their respective blogs as well as on Twitter.

And that’s what prompts my contribution to this discussion: I will comment only lightly on the substantive issues they have raised related to our Arts strategy as my colleague, Josephine Ramirez, who directs our Arts program, plans to post a more substantive comment on those issues in the next week or so. There is another aspect of this discussion that I do want to comment upon and invite others to engage on with me and my colleagues in philanthropy.

From my early days as Irvine’s CEO, and with great support from our Board of Directors, I have placed a premium on transparency, both with regard to our work at Irvine and for the broader field of philanthropy. I have certainly not been alone in this quest (Brad Smith at the Foundation Center is probably our field’s leading champion), and I think it’s a fair observation to say that the field has come a long way in the past decade.

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Irvine Board Approves $14.5 Million in Grants

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Dec 10, 2012

Irvine’s Board of Directors approved $14.5 million in grants at its quarterly meeting last week. Of the 53 grants approved, 32 are in the Arts, three in California Democracy, four in our Youth program, 13 in Special Initiatives and one in Special Opportunities. I’d like to highlight some of the grants that we are excited about:

Exploring Engagement Fund – Our Arts program is supporting 19 arts organizations that are experimenting with new ways of engaging audiences and participants as part of our Exploring Engagement Fund. The goal of the new strategy is to promote engagement in the arts for all Californians — the kind that embraces and advances the diverse ways that we experience the arts and that strengthens our ability to thrive together in a dynamic and complex social environment.

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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
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| 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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Apply for an Arts Grant

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
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| 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
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| 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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Irvine Board Approves $20.3 Million in Grants

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Jun 18, 2012

Irvine’s Board of Directors approved more than $20 million in grants at its quarterly meeting last week. Of the 36 grants approved, 22 in the Arts, nine in California Democracy two in Youth, and one in Special Initiatives. In addition, two Special Opportunities grants were approved. Here are a few grants that we’re particularly excited about:

Exploring Engagement Fund — The grants include the first round under our Exploring Engagement Fund which demonstrates Irvine’s new Arts program strategy in action. The goal of the new strategy is to promote engagement in the arts for all Californians — the kind that embraces and advances the diverse ways that we experience the arts and that strengthens our ability to thrive together in a dynamic and complex social environment. Grants total more than $2 million to 20 arts organizations who are piloting new ideas to engage Californians in the arts.

Families in Schools — A $5.15 million grant was made to continue our Families in Education Initiative, which seeks to engage parents in educational decision making and advance new educational policies and practices in the San Joaquin Valley and Inland Empire. The initiative supports 11 community organizations in those regions and is administered by Los Angeles-based Families in Schools, which provides advice and technical assistance and strategizes with Irvine about how to maximize the initiative’s impact. This grant is part of the California Democracy program, which seeks to advance effective public policy decision making that is reflective of and responsive to all Californians.

ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career — Our Youth program promotes Linked Learning as a new approach to high school education that combines strong academics with real-world experience in a wide range of fields. This $5.725 million grant includes continued funding and substantial support to ConnectEd to serve as the intermediary organization managing the California Linked Learning District Initiative and to provide technical assistance to all nine districts for one additional year. This grant is part of the program’s Linked Learning Practice priority. Grants made as part of Irvine’s Youth program seek to increase the number of low income youth in California who complete high school on time and attain a postsecondary credential by the age of 25.

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June 1 Deadline for Exploring Engagement Funds

BY Rick Noguchi
Rick Noguchi
Rick Noguchi has been with Irvine since 2008 and helps oversee many of the Found
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| May 30, 2012

This Friday, June 1, is the deadline for applications to two of our Arts grantmaking funds: the Exploring Engagement Fund and the Exploring Engagement Fund for Priority Regions. We are excited to see what ideas the state’s arts community will bring forth as they experiment with new ways of engaging Californians in meaningful arts experiences.

This will be the first batch of applications for the Exploring Engagement Fund for Priority Regions, which we set up specifically to support nonprofits located in the Foundation’s priority regions of the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley. These two regions are vastly under-resourced by philanthropy and have great needs as a result of the recession. Our fund seeks to provide support for nonprofits with new ideas for how to bring residents in their communities together through arts experiences.

As part of our outreach to encourage applications, I partnered with various Irvine colleagues to hold informational sessions about the fund in the two regions earlier this spring. You can read my earlier post about what kind of reaction we received during these two sessions. The fund’s eligibility requirements are similar to the statewide Exploring Engagement Fund, but it is only open to nonprofits located within the ten counties of the San Joaquin Valley and the two counties of the Inland Empire.

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ArtsJournal: Should Arts Organizations Lead or Follow Their Audiences?

BY Josephine Ramirez
Josephine Ramirez
As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the implementation of a new grant
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| Jan 23, 2012

Recently I was asked to participate in a new “Lead or Follow” debate on ArtsJournal to weigh in on the provocative topic of when and how arts nonprofits should engage audiences. ArtsJournal framed the question in a very broad way: “In this age of self-expression and information overload, do our artists and arts organizations need to lead more or learn to follow their communities more?”

As we recently launched our new Arts strategy with promoting engagement as its core goal, I gladly accepted the invitation to weigh in. After all, this was a key tension over the last year as we considered how best to support arts organizations in being able to respond to the variety of demographic and technological shifts facing the field. The new “leaders,” I wrote, “will be those who are successful at facilitating creative, immersive, active arts experiences alongside our ‘traditional’ expertise of creating something and presenting it whole and complete for a more observational experience.”

The online debate features other guest authors from a variety of backgrounds who also wrote provocative and compelling entries. I think their posts are important contributions to the debate, helping to define the true meaning of audience engagement and spotlighting the need for top arts administrators to do a better job of listening to what their audiences want. Not surprisingly, many of the posts have prompted robust reactions.

I greatly appreciate ArtsJournal’s efforts at putting this very important debate about arts leadership front and center in a new and compelling format that allows readers to track the posts by author or by “lead” or “follow” argument tracks and for providing a number of resource publications that help inform the debate. Please read my ArtsJournal post and let us know your thoughts.

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Report: How Arts Groups are Creating Opportunities for Active Participation

BY Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2006 to 2013, last serving
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| Oct 01, 2011
Getting In On The Act

Arts participation is being redefined as people increasingly choose to engage with art in new, more active and expressive ways. This compelling trend carries profound implications, and fresh opportunities, for a nonprofit arts sector exploring how to adapt to demographic and technological changes.

Getting In On the Act: How Arts Groups are Creating Opportunities for Active Participation is a new study commissioned by The James Irvine Foundation and conducted by WolfBrown. It draws insights from more than 100 nonprofit arts groups and other experts in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. The report presents a new model for understanding levels of arts engagement as well as case studies of participatory arts in practice. It also addresses many of the concerns that arts organizations may have in supporting participatory arts practices and provides inspiration and ideas for exploring this growing trend.

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Expanding Engagement in the Arts: A Conversation with Josephine Ramirez

BY Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2006 to 2013, last serving
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| Oct 01, 2011

To say Josephine Ramirez hit the ground running when she joined the Irvine Foundation would be an understatement. Hired as Arts program director in January 2010, Josephine was immediately tasked with refining Irvine’s Arts grantmaking strategy to respond to major shifts affecting California’s arts sector.

Along with her Arts program colleagues, Josephine spent the better part of her first year surveying the broader arts field, talking to grantees and field leaders, and analyzing the major issues that arts organizations were grappling with. As their work developed, Josephine and her Arts team focused on the concept of promoting engagement as the most effective way of helping arts nonprofits adapt to a challenging environment and provide more enriching arts experiences for Californians.

The idea is one that Josephine has had a lot of experience with. As vice president for programming at the Music Center in Los Angeles, she helped create the center’s Active Arts program, which has drawn thousands of Angelenos with outdoor, participatory arts events over the last eight years and helped boost the civic vitality of downtown Los Angeles.

Prior to the Music Center, Josephine served as a research associate at the Getty Research Institute investigating the connection between art-making and civic participation. And as a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, she explored the relationship between nonprofessional art-making and individual and community vitality.

Irvine Quarterly recently talked with Josephine about Irvine’s new grantmaking strategy in the Arts, the ongoing work of developing new grantmaking funds as part of the new strategy and where she sees the arts field going in the years ahead.

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