About

Arts Council Santa Cruz County fuels our community’s creative ecosystem.

Our work serves thousands of youth, artists, and arts organizations across Santa Cruz County every year. We invest in arts education programs, host the beloved Open Studios Art Tour, and support artists, arts organizations, and the thriving artist community at the Tannery Arts Center.

See how our Programs & Initiatives spark creativity in Santa Cruz County.

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We believe art transforms society.

When people express themselves through their art, they feel more empowered to share their voice. When we enjoy art together, we feel more connected to one another. When kids use art in their school day, they develop communication and critical thinking skills. 

This is about more than just buying a bunch of paintbrushes. It’s about improving an essential culture in our county.

That’s why we support art at all levels of our community. From classrooms to the Mello Center stage, we catalyze meaningful creative experiences across Santa Cruz County.  

A Stronger Santa Cruz County

Our mission is to generate creativity, vibrancy, and connection. Together, we’re building a stronger Santa Cruz County, where creative expression thrives and the arts are integral to all aspects of our diverse community.

We’ve been doing this work since 1979 as a private, non-profit agency with an incredible team and board. (p.s. Our tax ID is 94-2600140 and you can see our most recent 990 form here.)

A Commitment to Equity

We seek to deliberately and continuously address systemic barriers to opportunity and are committed to promoting equity and inclusion for all Santa Cruz County residents. We believe our impact is enhanced when people from different backgrounds with unique perspectives are engaged in our activities and decision-making processes. We strive to increase equitable opportunities and outcomes by building a board and staff that reflects the communities we serve.

We acknowledge that historically and currently, institutions and systems of power grant privilege and access unequally, especially on the basis of race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status, socioeconomic status and disability status. The more that these barriers converge, greater limitations to opportunity exist. We recognize our role in supporting large and pervasive disparities in access to the arts and are committed to taking the actions required to eliminate these disparities and advance equity in our organization and in our community.

Impact in Numbers

The 2018-19 fiscal year was an exciting year of growth and transition for Arts Council Santa Cruz County. We served over 18,000 youth through arts education and connected over 300 artists with the community during the Open Studios Art Tour. From staff to board, the Arts Council has doubled-down on its commitment to equity and inclusion in our practices and programs.

  • 18,000 students in a more creative classroom at 37 schools
  • $218,000 in grants invested in emerging artists, funding 90 creative projects
  • Grants investment in Watsonville and artists of color doubled
  • $1,000,000 in art sales generated through the Open Studios Art Tour
  • 5th year of celebrating art and the San Lorenzo River at the Ebb & Flow Arts Festival
  • Tannery studio tenants and the Art League offered 15 classes to nearly 200 community members and 19 residents exhibited work at Studio 119

What’s On Our Minds

Art: The Equalizer in Education 

An interview with Arts Education Director Sarah Brothers about how the arts help students succeed.

Arts Council Stands With Black Lives Matter

Arts Council Santa Cruz County stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and protestors throughout the world demanding change.

Equity Interview with Hannah Garcia 

Explore what equity in the arts means to Arts Council Santa Cruz County, both inside and out. 

See the Full Blog Here →