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The U.S. House Interior Appropriations Committee advanced a bill to provide funding for our nation's natural and cultural resources, proposing $145 million to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for FY2018. This is a $5 million cut from current levels and $10 million less than the request supported by a record number of members of Congress this year. Take two minutes now to urge your congressional members to pass a budget that invests in our nation and supports access to the arts in America for all.

ACSO Awarded California Arts Council “Statewide and Regional Networks” Grant

The California Arts Council announced its plans to award $27,000 to the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) as part of its Statewide and Regional Networks program.

The Statewide and Regional Networks program supports arts service organizations that provide specialized, practical services to working artists, constituent organizations and cultural community. Collectively, these networks help to activate California Arts Council constituents, the arts community, stakeholders, and the public.

ACSO is one of 33 grantees chosen for this competitive program, which received applications from 47 organizations statewide. The news of ACSO’s grant was featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council, which can be found online at

“Our Statewide and Regional Networks grantees are just that—a network,” said Donn K. Harris, Chair of the California Arts Council. “An invaluable network. These are nerve centers of arts and culture that are crucial to growing and sustaining California’s artistic landscape. We’re proud to support the work of ACSO.”

In addition, the California Arts Council funded 30 of ACSO’s members and affiliates with grants totaling $421,487. Member and affiliate organizations include: American Youth Symphony, Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, California Chamber Orchestra, California Symphony, Carmel Bach Festival, El Sistema/USA/Salinas, Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, Long Beach Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Marin Symphony, Monterey Symphony, New West Symphony, Oakland Symphony, Orange County Women’s Chorus, Pacific Chamber Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, Philharmonic Society of Orange County, Sacramento Master Singers, San Bernardino Symphony, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Santa Rosa Symphony, Street Symphony, Vallejo Symphony, Young Musicians Foundation, and Youth Orchestra of Fresno.

Click here to view ACSO member and affiliates' funded projects.

ADVOCACY ACTION ALERT: President's Budget Confirms Arts Cuts

Today, President Trump released the full version of his FY 2018 budget proposal, A New Foundation for American Greatness.

As you may recall, the FY 2018 was released in March and called for a total elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and other cultural grant-making agencies. Today's full budget proposal was no different.

The President’s FY 2018 budget takes the NEA from its $150 million appropriation to $29 million.

Take action now by contacting your Member of Congress and Senators telling them to #SAVEtheNEA. Be sure to include your own stories of how the NEA has brought the arts to your community. You can find specific examples for your state by clicking here to see a breakdown of NEA grants for 2016.

Your voice can make a difference. Speak out to Congress and #SAVEtheNEA! Congress will now officially begin hearings on this request, so your message to your elected officials is timely!

ACSO is a member of the Arts Action Fund.


Congress has reached a bipartisan agreement on a bill to fund the nation’s federal agencies and programs for the remaining balance of the current FY2017 fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2017. None of the nation’s arts and cultural agencies nor programs incurred a budget cut. In fact, many of them received funding increases for this year. Special thanks to House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) for initiating a funding increase for many of these cultural programs in the House Interior bill.

Click here to read more at the Arts Action Fund.

ACSO is a member of the Arts Action Fund 

Intern with ACSO this Summer - and Get Paid!

We are recruiting a conference and membership intern through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Summer Internship Program ( We are offering one full-time internship for 10 consecutive weeks beginning no earlier than June 5, 2017 and ending no later than August 25, 2017. The hourly rate is $12 per hour.

The conference and membership intern will play an essential role in preparing for and executing ACSO’s 2017 annual conference, a signature learning experience for orchestra professionals throughout California. The intern will also work closely with the membership manager to prepare for the fall 2017 annual membership renewal campaign and to successfully serve and support ACSO’s members.

Information about the internship as well as how to apply can be found here. The deadline to apply is May 1, 2017.

This internship is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. 132 undergraduate interns will participate in the program this year at 119 performing, presenting, and literary nonprofit arts organizations and municipal arts agencies throughout LA County. In addition to their full-time 10 week paid internship, interns will participate in educational events as part of the program, which is funded by the Getty Foundation. The educational events are designed to provide interns with a broader perspective of the vibrant arts and cultural landscape of the County. For additional information on the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Arts Internship Program, and for a complete list of all the internships offered this summer, visit the Arts Commission website at

Apply for the Kris Sinclair Leadership Award

Apply today for the the Kris Sinclair Leadership Award that is given to an ACSO member organization that demonstrates impactful leadership initiatives, which advance the goals of the Organization, including, but not limited to, finance, governance, staff development, audience development, education, and community engagement.

The award will be presented at the annual ACSO conference at which the recipient’s Leadership must be present. The winning organization will receive a cash award of $5,000 which advance the goals of the organization as stipulated in its submitted application.

Through an online application, applicant organizations must demonstrate how they have achieved recent, measurable successes applicable to the Kris Sinclair Leadership Award. Additionally, the applying Organization must demonstrate how the award funds from Kris Sinclair Leadership Award will be used to further advance the goals of the Organization. Phone interviews with finalists might be requested.

Click here for more information or to apply. The application deadline is April 15, 2017.

Advocacy Action Alert: White House to Eliminate National Endowment for the Arts

The White House released its proposed budget to Congress today, officially recommending full termination of funding for both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for FY2018. This is the first Administration in history to propose zeroing out all funding for the nation's federal cultural agencies.

The NEA funds nearly $10 million dollars in federal grants to California's nonprofit arts community and serves every congressional district in our state. These funds support arts education and every artistic discipline, including classical music.

The federal appropriations process does not end here. ACSO is a member of the Arts Action Fund and will promote a concerted grassroots effort to convince Congress to #SaveTheNEA.

ACSO executive director Mitch Menchaca will attend next week's National Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. and be one of the many delegates representing California to talk to federal lawmakers and share the stories about the impact and transformative power that the arts and classical music have in their communities and districts.

What actions can you take?

1. The most important thing you can do is to take two minutes to send a customizable message to your elected representatives in Congress and urge them to oppose any attempt to eliminate or cut funding to the NEA.

2. Post on Facebook and Twitter to help rally national support to save the NEA. There is strength in numbers and your social media friends can help.

Click here to read a statement from Jane Chu, National Endowment for the Arts Chair

Advocacy Action Alert: Support Federal Funding for the Arts

Help Save the NEA from Elimination!

Federal cultural agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) are in danger of being eliminated by the new Administration. The NEA funds nearly $10 million dollars in federal grants to California’s nonprofit arts community and serves every congressional district in our state. These funds support arts education and every artistic discipline, including classical music.

ACSO is a member of the Americans for the Arts Action Fund and we sending our members an action alert to help rally national support to save the NEA.

Click here to send an instant message to your US Representative and Senators urging them to support the NEA. 

Click here to join as a free citizen member of the Action Fund to help advocate to the President to keep funding for the federal cultural agencies. 

Click here to download an advocacy sheet to share with your board and staff with key facts and how to make your voice heard.

On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, The Hill newspaper reported that the Trump Transition Team staff intend to recommend that the (then) President-elect to eliminate the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as well as privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

This proposal comes from the politically conservative Heritage Foundation and House Republican Study Committee and is expected to be included in this year’s Congressional House Budget Resolution, as it has in previous years. However, it would be much more serious if it were also proposed by the new Administration.

Legislative and executive branch action will start moving very quickly now.

Remember, advocacy is different than lobbying and your organization has the right to advocate on behalf of its constituents. Citizen participation and citizen action is essential to democracy. To learn more about differences between advocacy and lobbying, please visit the ACSO website.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact ACSO staff at or 916-484-6744.

Accepting Applications for the ACSO Consulting Services Grant Program

ACSO's Consulting Services Program provides affordable and accessible consultations to member organizations to strengthen their organizational capacities.

Through generous support from the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, ACSO supports requests for professional consultants by member organizations in the areas of board development, organizational structure, fundraising, artistic planning, program development, marketing and audience development, financial management, and strategic/long range planning.

Click here for more information and to learn how to apply.

In Memoriam: Sue Dewar

The ACSO community mourns the loss of one its founders, Sue Dewar of Pebble Beach who died Janaury 7, 2017.

Sue, with the active participation of luminaries such as Carmen Dragon and Ernest Fleischmann, met in 1968 at Asilomar – five miles from her home – to found an organization that would be a helping hand for California’s symphony orchestras, festivals and music businesses.

Sue Dewar was a fan of the people involved in classical music and especially loved volunteers and staff members. She was eager to learn new ways to share ideas to raise money and grab the public’s attention. She had an extraordinary ability to open doors whether through an after-concert drink, a cozy luncheon at her beloved Beach Club, or a major fundraising gala. She particularly liked putting professionals together with patrons – many of whom were “tighter than an acrobat’s pants” – and see what happened. 

“One of my favorite Sue stories had to do with a tea,” said Joe Truskot, long-time executive director of the Monterey Symphony and a former ACSO president. “Sue, who was trained as a graphic designer, created a whimsical, Disney-like cartoon of a silver tea service – the invitation’s cover art. When the registration for the event turned out to be ho-hum, Sue went into action. She created a coloring contest. She enlarged her black and white drawing and took copies to Clint Eastwood, her cartoonist friends Hank Ketcham, Gus Arriola, Bill Bates; artist Will Bullas; as many politicians as she could find and asked them to get out their crayons. Wisely, she included several community benefactors (read: deep pockets). She knew these folks all had admirers in town who in order to gain favor would buy their work. The tea broke even, but the coloring contest brought in several thousand dollars.” 

Having touched many people during her life in Monterey County, Sue Dewar – an independent and free spirit – will be fondly remembered. Our condolences go to Rod, her husband of many years, and to the folks in our business whom she adopted as her children.  

(Photo of Sue with her husband Rod)