State funds support arts education at Meadow Homes Elementary celebrating cultural diversity
The California Arts Council announced, on Wednesday, that it plans to award a grant to Meadow Homes Elementary in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) as part of its Artists in Schools program.
The Artists in Schools program supports projects that integrate community arts resources—artists and professional art organizations—into comprehensive, standards-based arts learning projects for California’s students. This year, the California Arts Council’s Artist in Schools program will allow 144 arts organizations to hire 580 teaching artists that will serve a total of more than 43,000 students in 323 schools across California.
The $6715 grant was awarded jointly to Walnut Creek Civic Arts Education, along with MDUSD’s Meadow Homes Elementary and Tice Creek School in the Walnut Creek school district to offer high-quality, after-school arts learning communities for at least 50 students in grades 1-6. In series of workshops, students will receive standards-based arts instruction in two disciplines, one visual and one performance-based, draw connections between them, and hold a community-based culminating performance/exhibition.
“Civic Arts Education is excited about this opportunity to work with local schools whose goals so closely align with ours. Teaching artists from Civic Arts can’t wait to share visual and performing arts like anime and African drumming to help Meadow Homes students explore their creativity,” said Linda Johnson, Civic Arts Education Program Manager. “We’re grateful to the California Arts Council for making it happen!”
Dr. Nellie Meyer, Superintendent for MDUSD, praised the Artists in Schools grant as a valuable tool to contribute to student achievement and success in school and beyond.
“A strong arts education promotes the skills our students need to be successful, and is essential to promoting self-directed learning, and critical and creative thinking skills. We believe firmly that what students learn in arts education helps them to master other subjects, including mathematics, language arts, and science,” said Meyer. “We could not be more excited about the opportunities this grant will open up for Meadow Homes’ students and families.”
Meadow Homes Elementary serves approximately 900 students, representing 19 different ethnic groups. Principal Sandra Wilbanks applauded the Artist in Schools grant for providing the campus an unparalleled opportunity to expand their existing arts education program to further celebrate the school’s cultural diversity.
“When you tie arts education into all areas of the curriculum, you create a rich environment for student learning that truly celebrates and honors students’ cultural backgrounds and traditions,” said Wilbanks. “Having diverse arts experiences is empowering for students. By exercising creative expression in all subject areas, students can be proud of who they are and how they are developing as young learners and future leaders.”
Wilbanks says Meadow Homes’ existing arts initiatives and grants have had unexpected but happy consequences in promoting second language development among its English Learner population, which accounts for approximately 78% percent of its 900 students.
“What we’ve seen is that, through the arts, students have a stronger connection to school, especially for English Learners. This has, in turn, improved the home-to-school and school-to-home engagement with our families,” she added. “We are absolutely elated about the grant and very excited about being able to partner with the California Arts Council on something that will be so meaningful for our families.”
The news of Meadow Home’s grant was featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council, which can be viewed online at http://arts.ca.gov/news/pressreleases.php.
“California Arts Council grants provide vital support for projects in diverse communities across our state,” said Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council. “This was an historic year of state arts support. We are proud to invest more than $8.5 million in funding 712 grant projects that will stimulate local growth and prosperity, and meet the needs of our communities through deep engagement with culture and creative expression.”
The California Arts Council will continue to grow the reach of its programs in the coming year, as the result of a significant one-time state arts funding increase for 2016-17 announced last week.
Nestled at the base of Mt. Diablo in the suburban East San Francisco Bay Area, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District is one of the largest school districts in the state of California, with over 56 school sites and programs serving 150 square miles, including the cities of Concord, Pleasant Hill, Clayton; portions of Walnut Creek, Martinez and Pittsburg; and unincorporated areas including Lafayette, Pacheco and Bay Point. The district is among one of the more ethnically-diverse in California, with students and their families representing more than 50 languages and dialects. Learn more at www.mdusd.org.
For over 50 years the City of Walnut Creek’s Civic Arts Education program has been the regional center of arts learning — promoting new visions, supporting exploration, stimulating creative thought and encouraging self-expression. Last year more than 8,000 adults, youth and children enjoyed beginning through professional level classes and programs at the Shadelands, Civic Park and Heather Farm campuses. Learn more at by clicking here.
The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California’s diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov.