In 2004, the James Irvine Foundation awarded the Community Foundation a multi-year grant to participate in its Communities Advancing the Arts (CAA) Initiative. This eight-year partnership inspired a series of county-wide projects in the arts sector, with the goals of helping to create a strongly-aligned, cooperative arts community and to increase awareness and support of the arts in Sonoma County.
In collaboration with Arts Council of Sonoma County (ACSC), the Community Foundation produced three arts festivals: Sculpture Sonoma (2005), Performance Sonoma (2007) and ArtsSonoma (2009). Most local arts organizations participated and public interest grew for the development of an annual Sonoma County arts festival. As a result, the ArtsSonoma Festival was launched by the Arts Council in 2009.
The Community Foundation also partnered with ACSC to create and implement a Sonoma County Artist Awards program, spanning the visual, performing and literary arts. To date, fifteen artists have received juried awards of $5,000 each. To continue support of individual artists in our county, the Community Foundation worked with local donors to build a $300,000 Artist Awards Endowment, which establishes a permanent artist awards program.
The creation of the ArtsSonoma website was another joint project with ACSC. This is a singular arts website for our county that collects, consolidates and posts all arts-related events and news in Sonoma County.
With the completion of the Irvine grant and the success of our objectives, we believe more strongly than ever that the arts can be a bridge to connect diverse groups of people and that a healthy, flourishing arts sector is essential to a vibrant community.