Listen to the Upstate Creative Corps Listening Session in Mendocino County
that took place on Nov 3, 2022
County arts agencies across California’s Upstate Region are thrilled to be working alongside one another on a new workforce development opportunity for artists and cultural practitioners, arts and social service sector organizations.
On November 3 at 2 pm Arts Council of Mendocino County co-hosted a California Creative Corps Listening Session at Willits Center for the Arts to present key information and invite a conversation on how artists can help communities tackle issues most critical to them, as part of an Upstate Listening Tour across 19 counties.
The 2021-22 State Budget included a $60 million one-time General Fund allocation for the California Arts Council to implement the California Creative Corps pilot program, a media, outreach, and engagement campaign designed to increase awareness related to issues such as public health, water and energy conservation, climate mitigation, and emergency preparedness, relief, and recovery.
Says, Alyssum Wier, Executive Director at the Arts Council of Mendocino County, “At the core of the Creative Corps are people – community members who play a vital role in civic engagement and social justice. We invite community members to come together with artists, arts and social service organizations, movement leaders, civic and business leaders, and policy makers for this critical conversation.”
Eliza Tudor, Executive Director at Nevada County Arts Council, who will be joining Mendocino County for its Listening Session, says: “Together, we will be introducing what the State sees as a new method of evaluating the relative health of communities. Using the California Healthy Places Index we are identifying issues that are specific to Mendocino County, inviting input on solutions, and inviting artists to position themselves to create awareness around them.”
The California Creative Corps Upstate Listening Tour is taking place county by county from now until mid-December. Alyssum Wier says: “Upstate populations suffer from among the worst health inequities in California and almost without exception – including the few tracts with overall health scores in the upper quartiles – there are health equity measures that fall within the lowest quartile of ‘Community Conditions.’ The fascinating part are the indicators that determine a community’s health, and which provide us with vital clues about how to move the needle.”
California Arts Council has selected fourteen organizations to administer the California Creative Corps across nine regions with a grant activity period that launched on October 1st. Nevada County Arts Council has been chosen to create a regranting program for Upstate California, putting to work $4,230,216 in workforce development funds for artists, as well as for arts and social service organizations who will employ artists between early 2023 and late 2024.
Supporting local outreach with local knowledge, as well as technical assistance for artists, and program development and evaluation, are multiple county arts agencies serving what amounts to the largest, most diverse, geographic area in California, with more counties than any other Creative Corps region.
Tudor continues, “Within the Upstate Region we are one of a network of agencies who serve as State-Local Partners with California Arts Council. While we each serve distinct communities, we are connected through a coalition that works to benchmark, consult, and gain from peer learning and support, with equity at our core. In this sense, we do not work in isolation. In applying to be an administering organization for the Upstate Region, it makes perfect sense to place our State-Local Partnership in service to the largest and most diverse geographic area within California.”
California Arts Council sees the California Creative Corps program primarily as a job creation and human infrastructure development opportunity. The hope is that, region by region, the program will increase the ways in which artists are engaged in public work, so that they can continue build upon intersectional public interest goals beyond it’s the program’s pilot funding timeline.
Alyssum Wier states, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be jointly hosting such an important listening session and we urge local community-minded artists, organizations and municipal and county officials to join us for this pro-active brainstorm. If you are solution oriented, and have first-hand knowledge of vulnerable communities, either because you represent one, or because you currently serve one, please join us. We also welcome those who’d like to learn more from a fresh perspective!”
The California Creative Corps program follows an unprecedented period in which communities globally have suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. During these years, creative sector professionals across the United States have been proposing ways to employ and deploy artists in programs similar to the Works Project Administration (WPA) and the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). The launch of a statewide Creative Corps pilot program is the result of a recommendation from the Governor’s economic and jobs recovery task force, and is the first of its kind in the nation.