California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

February 07, 2013Mary Beth Barber

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver retires as Chair of the California Arts Council

The arts-education advocate completes two terms on the Council and leaves significant legacy; last meeting to be February 12 in Sacramento

Sacramento -

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, the Chair of the California Arts Council, will complete two terms (eight years) on the state agency governing board - and four years as the agency's Chair -- with her last meeting in Sacramento on February 12, 2013, at the California Museum. The arts education advocate leaves a significant legacy for the agency in advocacy for arts education and local arts in California.

"I cannot emphasize enough the incredible work that Malissa has done on behalf of the arts and for arts education in the State of California," said Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council. "Her dedication, passion, and extraordinary effort in this unpaid position is unprecedented."

Arts Education

When she first joined the Council, Feruzzi Shriver's principal objective was to bring arts education back into schools. She saw the Arts Council as a key instigator for significant policy discussion and change in this area, and she and others built up a team of influential Californians to tackle the arts education issue. Starting from a national policy consortium through the National Endowment for the Arts in spring 2011 called the "Education Leaders Institute," Ferruzi Shriver initiated an arts coalition in California.

Feruzzi Shriver personally contacted legislators, industry leaders, PTA leaders, educators, arts leaders and others, encouraging them to participate in a series of statewide forums and form a coalition called CREATE CA - with CREATE standing for "Core Reforms Engaging Arts To Educate" and involving hundreds of influential Californians. The CREATE CA team (now over 400 strong) includes experts and policy leaders in education and the arts - but it also includes industry leaders in California's creative economy.

Feruzzi Shriver contends that the lack of arts education isn't just an arts issue or an education issue, but a concern for the state as a whole. Research shows that high school dropout rates-which can be connected to higher crime rates and low economic development-are higher in schools that lack arts education. Arts education can be used as a tool to decrease the dropout rate and improve the lives of at-risk youth, which could save California taxpayers millions, if not billions, of dollars. Additionally, industries that rely on a creative and entrepreneurial workforce require a robust K-12 education that encourages creative thinking and innovation - skills that can be fostered through music, dance, theater and visual arts education.

Multiple forums consisting of hundreds of participants have taken place as a result of her efforts with CREATE CA. A Joint Arts Education Task Force has been established by Superintendent Torlakson (Feruzzi Shriver and Craig Cheslog, Special Advisor to Torlakson, are co-chairs) to produce The Blueprint for Creative Schools: How the Arts and Creative Education Can Transform California Classrooms. Feruzzi Shriver's advocacy has placed arts education policy in the spotlight at a crucial time as the Common Core Standards for schools are being discussed and education financing is changing in California.

Arts License Plate

The California Arts Council was hard hit by the budget crisis of 2003 just before Feruzzi Shriver joined the Council, losing more than 90% of its General Fund allocation. Feruzzi Shriver believed while the Arts Council might lack funding power, it still had tremendous power as the state's arts agency. In addition, a funding program existed that was the agency's saving grace then and now: a portion of the agency budget comes from sales and renewals of the Arts License Plate, the special license plate with the sunset and palm tree motif. As state budget battles continued year after year, it became apparent to the Council that a way to increase arts funding was by selling more Arts Plates.

Significant changes happened with the Arts Plate under Ms. Feruzzi Shriver's leadership. The Franchise Tax Board issued an Informational Letter noting that Arts Plate fees could be considered charitable contributions for tax purposes, making the program appealing to businesses as well as individuals. Former Governor Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver publically supported the Arts Plate and the California Arts Council. And a host of California celebrities signed on to be "Arts Drivers" as part of the campaign.

Notable Arts Drivers include: (in alpha order): Debbie Allen, Herb Alpert, Annette Bening, Jack Black, Father Greg Boyle, Eli Broad, Vernon Davis, Placido Domingo, The Edge, Harrison Ford, David Geffen, Frank Gehry, the cast of "Glee," Macy Gray, Quincy Jones, Steve Martin, Ozomatli, Wolfgang Puck, Robert Redford, Tim Robbins, Ed Ruscha, Maria Shriver, Russell Simmons, and Alice Waters. A huge percentage of these Arts Drivers signed on because of a direct appeal from Feruzzi Shriver.

More about Malissa Feruzzi Shriver

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver was appointed to the California Arts Council by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2005 and elected Chair on January 27, 2009. The professional painter, writer, and owner of Feruzzi Fine Arts also serves on the boards of the National Assembly of State Art Agencies (NASAA), the California Institute of the Arts, and the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), including on its Congressional Advocacy Committee. She serves as chair of NASAA's Arts Learning Committee, is a policy board member for the California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE), and is a former board member of the California Music Project, a nonprofit organization created to support music education programs for California K-12 schools.

Feruzzi Shriver received a B.A. in Women's Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, and studied sculpture with Jonathan Bickhart and portrait painting with Stephen Douglas. She attended the State and Local Government Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and received an honorary doctorate from Laguna College of Art and Design. As an artist, Ms. Feruzzi Shriver works in oils and specializes in both originals and recreations of old master paintings. She comes from a family of accomplished artists.

Feruzzi Shriver's last meeting as the Chair of the California Arts Council will take place between 10:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. at the California Museum, 1020 "O" Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. Location information may be found at More information about the California Arts Council is at, and reporters may contact Mary Beth Barber, Information Officer, at or 916-322-6588.

About the California Arts Council

The California Arts Council is the state's arts agency, with the mission to advance California through the arts and creativity. The arts council provides funding for arts education and local arts programming; advocates for arts and arts education; and informs the public of important information about the arts, especially through its comprehensive website that includes an arts job and artist call board, grant listings, arts news and other information.

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the Arts and Creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Vice Chair William Turner, Wylie Aitken, Michael Alexander, Andrew Green, Adam Hubbard, Charmaine Jefferson, Terry Lenihan, Susan Steinhauser, and Rosalind Wyman.

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