An Unfinished Canvas

District Capacity and the Use of New Funds for Arts Education in California

Katrina R. Woodworth, Ashley Z. Campbell, Jennifer A. Bland, and Nicolette L. Mayes

2008, 51 pages. SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Avenue, Menlo Park, CA, 94025, 650-859-2000,

Upon completion of An Unfinished Canvas in early 2007, The Hewlett Foundation sought to further explore relevant policy mechanisms or other means of increasing student access to arts education. To this end, The Hewlett Foundation commissioned a series of follow-up studies, including this study of district leadership and capacity in the arts.

Findings from the initial study suggested that district leadership is key to developing and implementing arts programs, yet research also indicated that districts varied in the extent to which they were providing such support for schools. Research also suggested that districts that were most strategic in their support of arts education had some level of arts capacity; for example, some had a designated district staff person coordinating the arts, others formed a district arts committee to steer the development of expanded arts programs, and many of these districts were developing or had developed an arts education plan.

Questions about district leadership and capacity served as the impetus for this study. Through a survey of leaders in 385 districts, Hewlett's study assesses districts' capacity with respect to arts education, explores early spending choices, and examines the relationship between the two. Also, it studies changes in arts education since the new resources became available and works to understand the barriers that continue to stand in the way of comprehensive arts education for California students.