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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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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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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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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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Exploring Arts Engagement in our Priority Regions

BY Rick Noguchi
Rick Noguchi
Rick Noguchi has been with Irvine since 2008 and helps oversee many of the Found
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| Apr 26, 2012

It is well known that the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley have experienced rapid population growth followed by a severe economic downturn that left both regions struggling. The Irvine Foundation has prioritized these two regions for support because they are so drastically under-resourced by philanthropic dollars and have so much need. Within our Arts program, we created our new Exploring Engagement Fund for Priority Regions as part of our commitment to these two regions, and I was pleased to see the enthusiasm for the fund during two recent meetings I attended in Fresno and Redlands to answer questions about the fund.

The Exploring Engagement Fund for Priority Regions will enable us to work with local arts nonprofits to increase the engagement of Californians in these areas of the state. It is similar to our statewide Exploring Engagement Fund but is only open to nonprofits located within the ten counties of the San Joaquin Valley and the two counties of the Inland Empire. These nonprofits will fill out a slightly different application than the statewide fund and will also receive additional technical assistance in filling out the applications, if so desired.

For the information session in Fresno, we partnered with the Fresno Regional Foundation. Senior Program Officer Sandra Flores and Foundation Support Specialist Sarah Soberal helped coordinate the session and helped spread the word about the sessions to local arts groups. Irvine's Senior Program Officer Jeanne Sakamoto joined me in Fresno on April 12 for the San Joaquin Valley information session that was attended by more than 40 arts leaders in the region.

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Apply for an Arts Grant in Irvine’s Priority Regions

BY Rick Noguchi
Rick Noguchi
Rick Noguchi has been with Irvine since 2008 and helps oversee many of the Found
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| Apr 03, 2012

Join us in Fresno and Redlands this month for information sessions about our Exploring Engagement Fund for Priority Regions, a grant program specifically for nonprofit organizations that offer arts programs in the San Joaquin Valley and Inland Empire. The deadline to register for these sessions has been extended – see below for the details.

Grants from this fund will support nonprofit organizations as they investigate new ways to engage Californians in the arts via the three pathways outlined in our arts grantmaking strategy, which has the goal of promoting engagement in the arts for all Californians. This fund is offered in tandem with our other Exploring Engagement opportunities for arts organizations stateside and for large budget arts organizations.

Two Irvine Arts program staff members will be on hand at each session to explain this new funding opportunity and to answer questions to help you prepare your grant applications, which are due June 1, 2012. Although we will not be able to give feedback on specific proposal ideas, we think these sessions will be helpful as you develop your plans.

The sessions are presented in partnership with the Fresno Regional Foundation in the San Joaquin Vally and The Community Foundation Serving Riverside and San Bernardino in the Inland Empire. Here are the details:

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