Vote Yes on Prop C in November!


By Jessica Mele, Executive Director

On Monday, September 15, Performing Arts Workshop’s Board of Directors voted to endorse a proposition for only the second time in our nearly 50-year history. The proposition in question is Proposition C, and for those of you who care deeply about access to arts education for San Francisco youth, listen up.

Proposition C includes the reauthorization of two public sources of funding for arts education – the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF – formerly Prop H) and the Children’s Fund.

Public Education Enrichment Fund. A third of PEEF goes directly to the SF Unified School District for arts, sports, libraries and music. The measure funds a librarian in every school, visual and performing arts teachers (employed by the SFUSD) as well as dollars for schools to work with community organizations like Performing Arts Workshop. In addition to arts education PEEF supports universal pre-k and other student supports like health and wellness programs.

Children’s Fund. Children’s Fund dollars are granted out by the Mayor’s Department of Children Youth and Families in a competitive process to support after-school programming. Many grantees of DCYF are arts education organizations, like Performing Arts Workshop, that partner with community centers and schools to provide high-quality arts education in the after school hours. Through DCYF, the Workshop brings year-long arts learning to nine after  school programs, and three transitional housing centers for homeless youth.

Who is against Prop C? No one. Prop C is the only measure on the ballot for which this is no paid opposition.

The last five years have been hard for many communities in California, and San Francisco was no exception. Arts programs in and out of school time have suffered. However, thanks to investments like PEEF and the Children’s Fund, thousands of San Franciscans have been able to grow up with deep engagement in art making. But don’t take my word for it! Hear from Superintendent Richard Carranza and Mayor Ed Lee!

For more information on this issue and to learn about other candidates, consider joining Performing Arts Workshop at the Arts Town Hall on Monday 10/20 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts! All SF Board of Supervisor Candidates have been invited – see the list here, and questions will range from artist housing to arts education. You can be there’ll be a question about Prop C!


Advocating at the State Capitol

By Jessica Mele, Executive Director

The State Capitol - Arts Advocacy Day

It’s hard to muster enthusiasm on a crisp early Tuesday morning. But, standing on the train platform with Performing Arts Workshop staff, we buzzed with chills of anticipation (and maybe a little from the cold). We were turning our eyes toward the state capitol, and heading to Sacramento for a day of lobbying in support of arts education!

Amtrak Station

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 was National Arts Advocacy Day. At this time of year, I’m usually developing blisters and sweating through my cardigan as I climb capitol steps in Washington with my fellow arts advocates. Americans for the Arts organizes this event each year, and the Workshop has been a proud participant for the last three years.

This year, however, we elected to celebrate in a different way. Why should I get to have all the fun? Advocacy has been in the Workshop’s blood since those first teens in Gloria’s class spoke truth to power through dance and theater. So that’s how, at 7:40 in the morning, I boarded a train to Sacramento with four staff members.

We were treated to a personal tour of the Capitol from Joe Landon, Executive Director of the California Alliance for Arts Education. Ducking past school groups and suited lobbyists, Joe showed us the main Assembly and Senate Halls, committee rooms, secret staircases, and even got us a meeting with the Assembly Speaker’s Arts staffer!

The State Capitol

Over the course of the day, we had five legislative visits, and we had planned our talking points carefully. Arts education policy touches so many policy areas – education, art, health and wellness, families – that we had plenty to discuss when we met with staff at Member Ammiano’s (SF), Skinner’s (Berkeley/Oakland), and Levine’s (Marin) offices. In particular, we were struck by Ammiano staffer Wendy Hill and Speaker’s Office staffer Eric Astacaan’s personal experience with and enthusiasm for the arts.

Of course, each staffer received an invitation to our student showcase – Bravo! @ The Brava on May 12!

Our final meeting of the day was with Senator Mark Leno himself, who flashed us a smile and fiercely delivered our own talking points about the importance of arts education to a young person’s development and education! He discussed his own ideas for supporting the California Arts Council’s budget, and hinted that he may consider taking action on this issue during his remaining years at the Capitol (Sen. Leno terms out after the 2016 session).

Workshop staff with Senator Leno

It was a long day, and we certainly saw, heard and learned a lot. On the train ride home, we were swarmed by a group of elementary students from Martinez, still bursting at the seams with energy after a long day visiting the Capitol. We started playing “Head’s Up!” – a game similar to charades that requires players to act out a word, so the person in the hot seat can guess what it is. Kids were screaming and jumping and encouraging each other. It was a bit chaotic, but that’s when it hit me: We work all year to make sure that young people have access to a deep, meaningful learning experience that takes them out of their desks and outside of their classroom. For this year’s arts advocacy day, we reconnected with that goal, by getting ourselves out of our desks and beyond the office. Sometimes you need a change of scene to remind you to keep learning.

Click here to view photos from our Arts Advocacy Day! 

Advocacy day photos

Partners in Arts Education Grants

National_Guild_New_Logo_epsFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 14, 2013

Contact: Heather Ikemire

 (212) 268-3337 ext. 10

                                                                                    Nandika Madgavkar

(212) 578-5707


MetLife Foundation and National Guild Announce

$215,000 in Grants to 12 Exemplary Arts Education Partnerships


August 14, 2013—New YorkMetLife Foundation and the National Guild for Community Arts Education announce the recipients of the MetLife Foundation Partners in Arts Education Program. Grants totaling $215,000 have been awarded to 12 nonprofit arts education organizations that will provide quality arts instruction to more than 11,300 K-12 public school students during the 2013–2014 academic year. Each grantee also will help increase each school’s capacity to provide arts education.

The grantees are:

Click here for a description of each partnership.

National Guild Executive Director Jonathan Herman said: “For two decades the National Guild has been researching, supporting, and fostering best practices in K-12 arts education partnerships that have powerful, long-term effects on students, faculty, institutions, and communities. The MetLife Foundation Partners in Arts Education Program supports exemplary partnerships that not only provide outstanding arts instruction but model effective partnership practices for the field. Grantees demonstrate Guild members’ high level of commitment to the values of quality, accessibility, and accountability. Since its launch in 2005, the program has directly benefitted 97 community arts education organizations, 652 public schools, and 71,000 students.”

“MetLife Foundation believes that arts education is critical to promoting learning and understanding of the world and its diverse cultures,” said Dennis White, president and chief executive officer, MetLife Foundation. “We are proud to support these outstanding arts organizations and we share the National Guild’s commitment to making arts education accessible to children across the country.”

In addition to the individual grants, MetLife Foundation’s Partners in Arts Education Program will sponsor the pre-conference institute, Developing High-Impact Collaborations with K-12 Schools,  (October 30, 2013) at the Guild’s 76th annual Conference for Community Arts Education in Chicago, IL. The goal of the institute is to provide community arts education organizations the tools, training, and know-how to develop successful arts education partnerships.

Other resources available through MetLife Foundation’s Partners in Arts Education Program include Partners in Excellence: A Guide to Community School of the Arts/Public School Partnerships from Inspiration to Implementation and Profiles in Excellence: Case Studies of Exemplary Arts Education Partnerships. Both are available free of charge through the Guild’s website,; hard copies may be purchased by phone at (212) 268-3337 ext. 16.

The National Guild for Community Arts Education supports and advances access to lifelong learning opportunities in the arts. We foster the creation and development of community arts education organizations and programs by providing research and information resources, professional development and networking opportunities, advocacy, funding, and high-profile leadership. Our member organizations collectively serve more than 1.2 million students, employ 16,000 teaching artists, and reach an additional six million Americans each year through performances and exhibitions in rural, suburban and urban communities across the nation. Their impact on the lives of students and communities they serve is enduring and profound.

MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 to carry on MetLife’s longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. The Foundation is committed to building a secure future for individuals and communities worldwide. Since it was established, MetLife Foundation has made more than $570 million in grants. Visit

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Obmamacare Explained: A Guide for Californians

The Workshop is one of the leading Teaching Artist Hiring Organizations examining health benefits for teaching artists, both internally with our own artists and as a member of Teaching Artists Guild. This project will rely heavily on what is to come as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Here’s a quick tutorial from our friends at KQED on the upcoming changes that will affect all Californians:


STEM vs. STEAM – What’s changed since 2010?

In March of 2010, we linked to Joseph Piro’s article on Education Week about going from STEM to STEAM. This is still our most viewed blog post. Why? What is it about this idea that people find so compelling?

Science Technology Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects, can’t help us resuscitate education alone. Art and its creative thinking processes are a necessary partner to round out the kind of learning we want our children to experience. Making STEM into STEAM is one way to ensure that we engage our students in education that compels, challenges and inspires them.

And arts advocates are not the only ones who think this way. STEAM is making headway with governmental support from the newly formed Congressional STEAM Caucus. With a stated mission that desires “to increase understanding of the importance of arts and design to STEM subjects, to spread the word about STEAM, and to prioritize STEAM education.”

Obama’s second term is being hailed as a second chance by many education advocates to seek and support reform of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). STEAM supporters and the STEAM Caucus will potentially be large players if congress decides to tackle ESEA. Find out more about STEAM and the STEAM Caucus by following the links below.

Read our original article here.

The Future of Arts Education – Our Dreams for 2013 and Beyond

Our annual Board and Staff retreat is this weekend. We will be reviewing our strategic plan, looking at our current business model and discussing opportunities for change capital. In our almost 50 year history, the Workshop has constantly adapted to the changing demands of field, gone where we saw the most need and forged ahead when we witnessed opportunity.

Recently, administrative staff did a visioning exercise where we asked ourselves what we would change right now if we could, what we wanted to happen this year, and what challenges we see for our work in the next 5 years. Here are our hopes and dreams for the future.HD_rightnow HD_2013 HD_5years Hopes_Dreams

Fund California’s Education: Prop 38 & 30

Hello California Voters!

Getting ready to vote on November 6th?

Wondering why there are two different education propositions on the ballot?

The Board of Performing Arts Workshop has officially endorsed Prop 38 and Prop 30. They both set out to generate revenue for our sorely underfunded education system here in California.

Prop 38 is a long term solution, generating money for a separate fund from a progressive tax structure. It lists the arts as a priority for funding, which is mission aligned for us here at the Workshop.

Prop 30 is a short term solution aimed at generating funds to close the deficit for this year’s educational budget. Monies from Prop 30 will go into the general fund, but will be aimed at education.

What happens if they both pass? It means Californians believe in educating our youth, yea! Here’s where it gets tricky: If Prop 30 doesn’t pass, we’ll have immediate, devastating cuts to already struggling schools.

If they both pass, it gets a little tricky. We recommend checking out this non-partisan website’s fact sheets for more specific information.

California Budget Project – Prop 30 Budget Brief (scroll down to page 9 for “What Would Happen if Voters Approve Proposition 30 and Proposition 38?”)

California Budget Project – Prop 38 Budget Brief

For more information on why Performing Arts Workshop endorsed both propositions, check out our Press Room.