California Arts Council Announces Partnership with the School of Arts and Culture at MHP to Administer Forthcoming Emerging Arts Leaders of Color Fellowship Program


SACRAMENTO – The California Arts Council announced today it has awarded the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza (SOAC), a cultural institution in East San Jose, with the Administering Organization Grant for the Emerging Arts Leaders of Color Fellowship Program.

The California Arts Council recognizes the historic marginalization of people of color within the field of arts administration and acknowledges that the barriers to the arts and culture field among people of color are compounded by the intersection with socio-economic status, geographic isolation, gender identity, and disability. The culture of unpaid internships within the arts, inaccessible educational requirements by employers, and geographic or social isolation from cultural institutions with paid staff opportunities all serve as potential structural barriers to a career in the arts.

About the California Emerging Arts Leaders of Color Fellowship Program

The Arts Council initiated this pilot fellowship program in April 2019, with the goal of uplifting an inclusive workforce and supporting the vibrancy of organizations that create and preserve the cultural identities of all California communities. The pilot program is made possible by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation and one-time increased state arts funding.

About the Administering Organization

As the program’s Administering Organization, SOAC will work under the guidance of the Arts Council to implement program development, outreach and marketing, application processes and re-granting management for host organizations and fellows, fostering a cohort-based learning community.

SOAC was selected as the pilot program’s Administering Organization following a call for applicants earlier this year. Applicant organizations participated in a two-round application process. Peer review panelists assessed applicant organizations and recommended a single organization based on their review and ranking. The Arts Council approved SOAC as the Administering Organization at a public meeting in September 2019. SOAC will administer the program for two years ending in 2021.

“The California Arts Council is committed to strengthening opportunities for people of color in arts and cultural spaces throughout our diverse state,” said Nashormeh Lindo, California Arts Council Chair. “We are pleased to partner with SOAC as our administering organization for this pilot program. Since its founding, SOAC has incorporated a race-equity lens into its framework. Their organization brings a cultural awareness to the program that is essential to developing authentic and fruitful opportunities for host organizations and fellows. And we remain grateful to the James Irvine Foundation for their funding partnership that’s made this essential pilot possible.”

“For the past 10 years, we have been pioneering an approach to building authentic diversity and inclusion in Silicon Valley’s art sector. We are excited to expand this work on a statewide level in partnership with the James Irvine Foundation and the California Arts Council.” said Jessica Paz-Cedillos, Executive Director of SOAC.

“We’ve been very pleased to partner with the California Arts Council on this important project,” said Leslie Payne, Senior Program Officer at the James Irvine Foundation. “As we conclude the Irvine Foundation’s dedicated funding in the arts, we see this as an opportunity to further connect the field with the outcomes of our New California Arts Fund’s exploration of arts engagement. We are excited to watch as the pilot further strengthens the arts and culture sector in the state.”

Program Timeline

The Emerging Arts Leaders of Color Fellowship program is currently in the development stage; the fellowship program is expected to open applications for host organizations and fellows in early 2020. Fellowships will be awarded in May 2020 followed by a nine to 12-month placement beginning August 2020. Arts organizations and administrators interested in more information on the Emerging Arts Leaders of Color Fellowship should contact Jessica Paz-Cedillos,, at the School of Arts and Culture at MHP.

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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.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Vice Chair Larry Baza, Juan Devis, Jodie Evans, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Stanlee Gatti, Donn K. Harris, and Louise McGuinness. Learn more at

The California Arts Council is strongly committed to improved accessibility for all Californians. For more information, visit

Caitlin Fitzwater

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