Rural Arts Initiative

California County Superintendents Arts Initiative has been working to build momentum for arts education in rural communities.

Alameda Alpine Amador Butte Calaveras Colusa ContraCosta DelNorte El Dorado Fresno Glenn Humboldt Imperial Inyo Kern Kings Lake Lassen LosAngeles Madera Marin Mariposa Mendocino Merced Modoc Mono Monterey Napa Nevada Orange Placer Plumas Riverside Sacramento SanBenito San Bernardino SanDiego SanFrancisco SanJoaquin San LuisObispo SanMateo Santa Barbara SantaClara Santa Cruz Shasta Sierra Siskiyou Solano Sonoma Stanislaus Sutter Tehama Trinity Tulare Tuolumne Ventura Yolo Yuba

Click on the map to learn more about the county offices of education from across California and what work they have accomplished to build capacity for arts education as part of a complete comprehensive curriculum.

Participating Counties


Amador County

Through a consensus building process with a diverse stakeholder team, Amador County Office and partners have worked to envision advancing arts education TK-12 across the district.

Butte County

Butte County Office of Education has been working to implement their county arts strategic plan. This has involved working with rural arts educators and deepening professional learning in Butte County.

Humboldt County

Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE) serves 32 school districts from the very rural (designated as Frontier by the California Department of Education) of 8 students to our largest of less than 4,000 students. In total, our 7,000 sq. mile county has 19,000 students.

Imperial County

Imperial County Office of Education embarked on an arts strategic planning process that was facilitated by Jim Thomas, consultant for the California Alliance for Arts Education ‚Äď made possible through the CCSESA grant and Stuart Foundation.

Mariposa County

While it began as the state’s largest county, territory that was once part of Mariposa was ceded over time to form all or part of twelve other counties, including all Merced, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings, and Kern; and parts of San Benito, Mono, Inyo, and San Bernardino, and Los Angeles.

Merced County

Merced County is thought of as a series of farming communities: Merced River was originally named Nuestra Senora de la Merced (Our Lady of Mercy) and that proximity to life-giving water allowed for a wealth of produce to be grown and for families to thrive.

Mono County

Mono County Office in partnership with key arts and education partners, developed the The Arts Master Plan which has provided a compass to guide work in the arts.

Nevada County

Nevada County is home to over 11,000 students (excluding the Truckee area). This includes eight elementary school districts, one comprehensive high school district, seven independent charter schools, and one community college.

Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County encompasses the four cities of Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Capitola, and Scotts Valley, as well as large swaths of unincorporated land ranging from agricultural fields to redwood forests.

Sonoma County

Sonoma County lies south of Humboldt, north of Marin, and to the west of Napa counties. Measuring 1.5 million square miles, the county offers redwoods, vineyards, and a rugged ocean coast that makes for diverse experiences and activities.

Tulare County

The Tulare County Office of Education led a strategic planning process to include key stakeholders from various sectors to envision key goals for strengthening and expanding arts education in Tulare County which resulted in a strategic plan.

About the Rural Arts Initiative

In 2019-20, eight counties participated in a Rural County Arts Cohort to increase student access to arts education. Subgrants were provided to assist counties in developing strategic arts plans and/or implementing existing strategic arts plans. A key component of building artistic literacy in rural communities has been implementing professional development focused on California Arts Standards and developing rigorous arts integration strategies that can open the door for interdisciplinary learning in the arts.

Imperial, Mariposa, and Nevada County Offices of Education implemented arts strategic planning processes with multiple stakeholders. Amador, Butte, Humboldt, Mono, and Tulare County Offices of Education implemented key components of their existing strategic arts plans.

Special thanks to consultants Peggy Burt, Dr. Merryl Goldberg, Patty Taylor, and Jim Thomas for their partnership and expertise. We also acknowledge the California Alliance for Arts Education and CREATE CA for supporting this effort. This collective work has been made possible through generous funding from the Stuart Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation.

To learn more about rural arts education, please access the Creativity at the Core Module 21: Creativity and Collaboration in Rural Communities developed by Kate Stover, Tulare County Office of Education.