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Arts Education Policy Update: Successes, Challenges, the Fight Ahead

Thursday, November 8, 2018 -
10:30am to 11:45am PST
Northern California Grantmakers
160 Spear St., Suite 360 | San Francisco, CA 94105
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Arts education has enjoyed some key policy wins in recent years, among them formal recognition that federal Title I funds may be used to support arts education, passage of legislation that created teaching credentials in dance and theater in California, and passage of SB 933, the Arts for Every Student Incentive Grant Program. The latter, incorporated into the 2018-19 budget that Governor Brown signed in June 2018, provides $44 million in new state funds for enhancing visual and performing arts education or expanding access to physical and mental health care in California schools.

Challenges to progress may lie ahead. Although proposed $15 million cuts to the budgets of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities failed, conservatives in the U.S. Congress and Senate may revisit similar proposals in the future. Current leaders of the federal Department of Education may take chilling positions on arts education, and new state leadership in California may change current policies. Thoughtful advocacy and policy work to advance the field continues to be sorely needed.

In this session, three arts education leaders will offer news and current strategies to advance equitable arts learning for all students in the state and nation. They also will share lessons learned by a major California arts funder that has made a sustained investment in arts education policy and advocacy.


Joe Landon, Executive Director, California Alliance for Arts Education

Joe Landon is the Executive Director of the California Alliance for Arts Education, a nonprofit organization that advances visual and performing arts education in K-12 public schools. Prior to joining the Alliance staff in 2006, Joe worked in the state capitol as a senior consultant for Assembly member Wilma Chan, focusing on early childhood education. Prior to that he worked as a principal consultant and speechwriter for Assembly Speaker Emeritus Robert Hertzberg. The bulk of Landon’s professional career was spent as a practicing artist. He is a playwright who also spent 15 years writing for television in Los Angeles.

Jessica Mele, Program Officer in Performing Arts, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 

Jessica Mele is a Program Officer in Performing Arts at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She manages a diverse portfolio of grants, with a particular focus on arts education advocacy and policy.

Previously, Jessica was executive director at Performing Arts Workshop, an arts education organization in San Francisco. During that time, she was also an active arts education advocate, serving on the executive committee of the Arts Provider’s Alliance of San Francisco, the steering committee of the Alameda Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership, and the national advisory council of Teaching Artist’s Guild. In addition, Jessica advocated with community-based organizations outside of the arts sector as part of the steering committee of the Family Budget Coalition in San Francisco, which was active in drafting legislation and re-authorizing the city’s Children’s Fund and Public Education Enrichment Fund in 2014.

Nancy Ng, Director of Community Engagement, Luna Dance Institute

Nancy Ng is the Director of Community Engagement of Luna Dance Institute and serves on the faculty of the Professional Learning Component. She was co-creator of Luna’s MPACT program and she develops interns and other professionals to build family dance programs in their own communities. Ng has worked as a performing artist, choreographer and educator for her entire life, including a long tenure as choreographer, performer and administrator for Asian American Dance Performances. She received her teaching credential from San Francisco State University, and following three years as a classroom teacher received her MFA in Performance and Choreography from Mills College. As a national arts education leader Ng serves on the advisory councils for the Teaching Artist Support Collaborative and the National Guild for Community Arts Education, and she is a past president of the California Dance Education Association.

About the Arts Loan Fund

Since 1981, the Arts Loan Fund (ALF) has provided over 1,345 low-interest, quick turnaround loans totaling over $18 million, to arts organizations located in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Sacramento, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, and individual artists in Oakland and San Francisco. 

The Arts Loan Fund is housed at Northern California Grantmakers, and its committee is comprised of NCG members.  The committee meets every six weeks to review loan applications and determine loan awards.