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The San Benito County Arts Council, in partnership with the Hollister Downtown Association, has been awarded $42,500 for “Activate Downtown,” which is designed to “harness the arts as a catalyst for economic growth, neighborhood revitalization and community engagement in Hollister, through coordinated events and site-specific projects.”

The downtown program is one of the projects reaching 20 counties supported by the new Creative California Communities grant program. The California Arts Council will support 24 projects in communities across the state through the new program, which is designed to “transform communities by harnessing arts and culture as a key economic development strategy.”

Projects supported by the Creative California Communities program represent a wide range of arts disciplines, and aim to revitalize neighborhoods through the arts, foster new arts engagement, stimulate tourism, create jobs for artists, invest in young people, and build relationships between local arts, business, and government entities.

“The Creative California Communities program supports many significant projects in large and small communities across California, demonstrating the power of the arts to transform our state,” said Wylie Aitken, chair of the California Arts Council. “Our council was inspired by the overwhelming response to this program, which revealed the scope of unmet needs for the arts in our communities.”

The Arts Council received 157 applications for this highly competitive grant program, which is supported by one-time funds from the California State Assembly. After an open application process, an advisory panel reviewed all grant applications, followed by a review and vote from the council at a public meeting in Los Angeles in June.

The council originally anticipated supporting seven to 15 projects, however, upon reviewing the applications, the Council voted to fund a larger number of projects, in accordance with the published decision-making criteria. When making funding decisions, the Council considered the following factors: outreach to new communities, overall statewide geographic distribution of projects, variety of projects, projects able to begin as early as possible, and likelihood of demonstrating the value of the arts.

One-time California State Assembly Arts Funding

Creative California Communities grants are supported by one-time funds from the California State Assembly. In July 2013, the California Arts Council received $2 million in savings from the 2013 State Assembly operating budget. The funds, directed to support arts and arts education programs in California communities via grants or direct services, must be encumbered during the 2013-2014 fiscal year and expended by June 30, 2015. Funds will not be used for administrative costs at the agency.

Funds will be distributed through Creative California Communities and two additional competitive grant programs, as well as through special arts education initiatives – reaching a total of 43 counties across California. All one-time programs and initiatives will be summarized in a forthcoming announcement.