History

1988 - Arts leaders call for creation of an arts council after OC Arts Alliance dissolves in 1987, and meet periodically to move it forward.

1995 - OC arts leader Bonnie Brittain Hall founds ArtsOC with help from community leaders and becomes its first Executive Director. OC Community Foundation provides office space. Its first Board president is John R. Stahr.

California Arts Council1998 - Arts Orange County is designated official nonprofit local arts agency and state-local partner by County of Orange & receives its first grant from the California Arts Council, a state agency.

County of Orange California2000 - First annual Orange County Arts Awards is held. County of Orange awards financial support to ArtsOC as part of an economic development initiative involving other organizations--but ceases the initiative after 3 years.

2004-2010 - James Irvine Foundation "Communities Advancing the Arts" program awards major funding to ArtsOC & OC Community Foundation, supporting 6 years of arts community building.

2005 - ArtsOC acquires the Imagination Celebration through a merger of the two organizations. Imagination Celebration originated with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., which later licensed it to select communities. 2018 will mark its 33rd year in OC, offered in collaboration with OC Department of Education.

2006 - Arts OC releases benchmark "Cultural Indicators Report," documenting the state of the Orange County arts community.

2007 - ArtsOC's first competitive grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency (additional NEA grants were received in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017).

2008 - ArtsOC establishes an endowment fund to support future activities. Founding Executive Director Bonnie Brittain Hall retires. Former longtime Laguna Playhouse Executive Director Richard Stein is appointed President & CEO.

2008-2015 - California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE) contracts with ArtsOC to establish 16 Local Arts Education Alliances serving most OC school districts, which CAAE now manages.

2008 - SparkOC.com, a new state-of-the-art online arts calendar & resource is launched. More than 30,000 visit it monthly.

2010 - Creative Edge Lecture presented, bringing to our community renowned thought-leaders to speak about the importance of creativity, in collaboration with Orange County Department of Education. The program has featured such eminent speakers and best-selling authors as Daniel H. Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, Randy Nelson, Tom Kelley, John Maeda, Sarah Lewis, Dr. Charles Limb, and U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. The program continues in 2018 for a 9th year.

2010 - ArtsOC increases its focus on consulting and project management amidst the recession. Services include commissioning public art, executive search & interim management, strategic planning and retreat facilitation. Clients include local government, higher education, and arts organizations.

2012 - ArtsOC launches Día del Niño, a one-day Latino-themed children's arts festival, featuring Grammy Award-winning ensembles & community artists, and attracting more than 3,000 in 2017. Plans are under way to expand the program in 2018 at the OC Fair & Event Center, after 6 successful years in Santa Ana's Birch Park.

2015 - ArtsOC is contracted by the City of Newport Beach to manage the inaugural Sculpture Exhibition in Civic Center Park, featuring 10 large-scale works displayed in the 14-acre sea-view park. Contract renewed in 2016 for round two (additional 10 sculptures), and a new contract awarded in 2017 for round three.

2015 - ArtsOC launches pilot program, VOICES: Veterans Storytelling Project, a workshop for veterans that culminates in a free public performance by participants. The program continued in 2016-17 and will again be offered in 2017-18.

2017 - ArtsOC moves its offices into new nonprofit "arts hub" building that houses Pacific Symphony, OC Music & Dance (a performing arts school), NextGen Recording Studio, and Monkey Business Café (operated by nonprofit Hart Community Homes).


Read Newport Beach Lifestyle's Excellent History of ArtsOC and its Survival of the Recession Here