Sonoma California Arts Council


The Arts Council of Sonoma County inspires our community to recognize and embrace the power of the Arts to enrich our lives, enhance our economic development and add value to our educational programs.  The Arts Council provides leadership in support of the growth and accessibility of all art and artists in Sonoma County.

History: The Arts Council of Sonoma County was founded in 1983 as a nonprofit organization and countywide agency to provide leadership and support for the arts and culture of our county. At our inception, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors designated ACSC as the partner in the California Arts Council’s program. The Council serves as the countywide coordinating agency for cultural arts information, programs, services, technical assistance, and communication.                        

Program highlights

Education & Outreach

Sonoma County Arts / Education Alliance: The Council leads an alliance of K-12 arts educators and organizations that advocates access for all countywide multi-disciplinary arts education. We direct and engage organizations to utilize arts and literature to improve test scores.

California, the fifth largest economy in the world spends three cents per person on the arts, the lowest expenditure in the United States.    Due to funding criteria, in Sonoma County our 40 non unified school districts teach to test, a model we are working to change.

California Poets in the Schools: For two years the ACSC has acted as fiscal sponsor for this program, which places poets directly into classrooms. The focus is on increasing literacy, particularly in schools with high ratios of minority students and fewer enrichment opportunities due to financial constraints.

Poetry Out Loud: In partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Poetry Foundation, California Poets in the Schools, and the California Arts Council, the ACSC hosts Poetry Out Loud. The program encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Through this program, students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. This program requires collaboration with outreach teachers and schools to reach underserved schools.

The Big Read: With support from the NEA, the ACSC will collaborate with local organizations to bring this important literary program, The Big Read, to Sonoma County. The program, consisting of more than two dozen activities, will kick off at the Sonoma County Book Festival on September 15, 2007, and will enable us to reach suburban and rural, old and young, and economically diverse audiences within in the county.

ARTrails Open Studios: For two weekends in October, 140 professional Sonoma County artists open their working studios to thousands of visitors and students to share their creative processes and to display and sell their unique art. We distribute 50,000 catalogs throughout the community and information to k-12 teachers to encourage class participation in this unique opportunity to discover how artists create art.

Professional development for teachers: Partnering with the Sonoma County Office of Education, the Alliance addresses teachers’ needs for additional professional development in the arts through hosting Arts Integration Workshops for educators.

California Arts Scholars: ACSC honors 15 distinguished high school students named California Arts Scholars by the California State Summer School for the Arts-InnerSpark program.  The annual ceremony is hosted at the Arts Council’s 5th Street Gallery.

Keeping Score: In conjunction with the Sonoma County Office of Education, the ACSC participates in the San Francisco Symphony’s Keeping Score, an educational program which trains teachers to integrate classical music into lesson plans.

Arts in Education: A Resource Guide for Sonoma County: distributed free to over 1,000 teachers and administrators throughout Sonoma County and available to the public on our website. The guide serves 73,000 students, 40 arts organizations and working artists.

Building Countywide Art Capacity and Audience:

●Arts Council Taskforce: Convened by the Council, leaders of Sonoma County arts organizations come together to identify common goals and explore collaborative opportunities to promote arts and culture in Sonoma County.

●Achievement in the Arts Awards: Established in 1998, the annual Achievement in the Arts Awards recognizes outstanding individuals from Sonoma County who have had a significant, measurable impact on the arts both inside the County and beyond its borders

●Community Cultural Arts Information and Referral: The offices of the Arts Council provide information regarding events, resource information for grants, and a centralized database of arts groups and supporters. The Council’s internet site – – is the County’s leading source on the web for Sonoma County arts information, which includes a daily calendar of events, as well as hotlinks to artists and arts organizations.

Artist Registry: Beginning in fall 2007, the Arts Council will provide a digital gallery for visual artists featuring their images with links to their contact information and/or website.

●Collaborative Programs with the Community Foundation: Partnering with Community Foundation Sonoma County, with support from the James Irvine Foundation’s Communities Advancing the Arts Initiative, the Arts Council coordinates programs that foster the development of individual artists and builds capacity of arts organizations.

Recent programs include the highly acclaimed Sculpture Sonoma and the inaugural SonomaArts Awards for Emerging Artists.  The Arts Council is now coordinating Performance Sonoma, which will bring together twelve Sonoma County performing arts organizations for an eight-week celebration of the performing arts.

●Exhibition Program: Eight new exhibits are presented each year at the Gallery at 529 Fifth Street in downtown Santa Rosa, with emphasis on Sonoma County artists, many of whom share insight into their work and the creative process through the popular A La Carte art talks. The Arts Council also coordinates exhibits in the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors offices approximately eight times a year.

●Jail Arts Program: Under contract with the County of Sonoma, the Arts Council provides rehabilitative art instruction at the Women’s correctional facility in North County. 

●First Friday Santa Rosa: The Council works with Santa Rosa City agencies including Recreation & Parks, Economic Development and Housing, and Santa Rosa Main Street in coordinating the First Friday Artwalk in the Courthouse Square area of Santa Rosa, which features artists exhibiting works in local businesses in addition to a variety of street performances that enliven downtown.

●Peanuts on Parade: Through the work of the Peanuts on Parade Committee, composed of representatives of the City of Santa Rosa and the Charles M. Schultz Family, the Arts Council serves as a fiscal sponsor for the three-year celebration of Peanuts characters in fiberglass statues, which are individually designed by local artists for public art exhibition at host businesses and organizations throughout the city.

Community revitalization

Cultural District: The Arts Council, in partnership with the Santa Rosa City Council and the Art in Public Places Committee, led a successful year-long campaign to pass two historic initiatives, an ordinance for new commercial construction to contribute 1% of project costs to a fund for pubic art and the establishment of an arts downtown district.

All American City Award: Awarded to Santa Rosa last month, the cornerstones for the award are gang prevention, Arts Downtown,  Measure O-which provided public safety monies, and community partnerships.  The Arts Council, in addition to traveling to Anaheim as part of the presenting delegation supported two of the four cornerstones-Arts downtown which revitalizes downtown Santa Rosa, and community partnerships to broaden and deepen access for all. Information Link: Arts Council of Sonoma County

Sausalito Art Gallery © 2004-2008

Graphic Design by Round the Bend Wizards

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