ACSO Awarded CAC “Statewide and Regional Networks” Grant

The California Arts Council announced its plans to award $25,500 to ACSO as part of its Statewide and Regional Networks program. The Statewide and Regional Networks program is rooted in the California Arts Council’s commitment to supporting arts service organizations reflective of California’s diverse populations. The program provides general operating grants for arts service organization networks with regional or statewide reach. Arts service organizations serve as networks to provide specialized, practical services for artists, arts organizations, and cultural communities.

ACSO is one of 43 grantees chosen for the Statewide and Regional Networks program. The award was featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council.

“Our Statewide and Regional Network grantees have their finger on the pulse of their communities,” said Nashormeh Lindo, Chair of the California Arts Council. “The Association of California Symphony Orchestras is part of a passionate group of arts service organizations whose tireless efforts keep the creative heart of California healthy and thriving.”

A complete listing of all Statewide and Regional Network grantees can be viewed at

San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory Receives ACSO’s Sinclair Leadership Award

The Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) announced today that the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory is the recipient of the 2018 Kris Sinclair Leadership Award for its Community Opus Project, a music education program for elementary students.

This award is named after Kris Sinclair who was the executive director of the ACSO for 31 years and is given to an ACSO Organizational Member that demonstrates recent and measurable leadership initiatives by its staff and/or board in one or more of the following areas: finance, governance, staff development, audience development, education, or community engagement.

“We are proud of the work the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory has done to ensure year-round music instruction for the 30,000 elementary students in the Chula Vista Elementary School District,” said Mitch Menchaca, executive director of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras. “The Community Opus Project is a great model of an educational partnership between school districts, orchestras, and community organizations. It is a wide-reaching response to a critical education gap in our public schools, and it demonstrates that music education contributes positively to the whole development of a child.”

The Community Opus Project includes after school instrumental orchestra and band programs for students in Chula Vista. Musicians meet together with a team of Teaching Artists – all professional musicians and educators – for two hours of music instruction, twice per week. Classes meet at five elementary schools and are open to students from any Chula Vista school.

With the Sinclair Award award comes a $5,000 prize which the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory will invest in professional development training for their teaching artists and staff members involved with the project.

National Endowment for the Arts Announces $105,000 in Grants to Five ACSO Organizational Members and Awards $15,000 to the Association for its Service to the Field

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018.  Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $15,000 to the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO).

“The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as the Association of California Symphony Orchestras, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”

“We are thrilled to have the endorsement of the NEA. The federal government is not only investing in ACSO, but investing in our members.” Said ACSO Executive Director Mitch Menchaca.

The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.

In addition to ACSO’s funding, five organizational members were awarded grants.  ACSO members include:

Berkeley Symphony
$20,000 Berkeley, CA
To support the Music in the Schools initiative.

Mainly Mozart Inc.
$15,000 San Diego, CA
To support the 30th annual Mainly Mozart Festival.

Ojai Music Festival
$15,000 Ojai, CA
To support the world premiere of a new work by American composer Michael Hersch at the Ojai Music Festival.

Philharmonic Society of Orange County
$10,000 Irvine, CA
To support an artist residency project featuring the Czech Philharmonic.

San Diego Youth Symphony
$45,000 San Diego, CA
To support expanded access to music education for public school students.

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit

Choice Entertainment Technologies - Lead Conference Sponsor

ACSO is excited to recognize Choice Entertainment Technologies as the Lead Sponsor for the 2018 Annual Conference!

Choice Entertainment Technologies improves audience experience while maximizing data collection. Sure, you know ChoiceCRM makes concert ticketing a breeze. But they do a lot more than that. From data intelligence platforms and digital ticketing interfaces to closed captioning & amplification software and more, Choice has the tools that countless venues and organizations use to connect more completely with entire audiences, not just ticket buyers.

NEA Receives $3 Million Increase in 2018 Budget! 

We wanted to share some good news with you today. You may have seen that last Friday Congress passed, and the President signed into law, an omnibus spending bill that will continue to fund the government for the remainder of the 2018 fiscal year, which started in October 2017. The bill included great news for the cultural sector:

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will each receive $152.849 million for the current fiscal year, representing a $3 million increase over the FY2017 budget. The increase to the NEA is directed toward expanding the Creative Forces: Military Healing Arts Network and increasing grants made available to indigenous, rural, and underserved areas. The budget language commends "the NEA for its work incorporating arts therapy into the treatment of active-duty military patients, veterans and their families" through this program. Congress also encourages the timely appointment of individuals to fill the vacancies on the National Council on the Arts, positions that are appointed by the president.

Additional successes include: 

  • The Assistance for Arts Education grant program at the U.S. Department of Education received $29 million, a $2 million increase over the previous fiscal year.
  • The Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program at the U.S. Department of Education is funded at $1.1 billion, a $700 million increase from FY2017.
  • The Office of Citizen Exchange within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State received $111.4 million, level funding from the previous fiscal year.
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services received a $9 million increase, including a $3 million increase to museums.
  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which had been slated to be defunded in previous budget drafts, will receive level funding.
  • The Johnson Amendment, which protects charitable nonprofits from partisan politicking, was neither repealed nor weakened.
  • This budget represents an incredible show of bipartisan support from Congress. The administration's 2018 budget proposal requested the elimination of the cultural agencies. The government has been funded through a series of continuing resolutions since October 2017, with the most recent CR having ended on Friday, March 23.

Please be sure to reach out to your members of Congress to express thanks for their ongoing support for the arts.

NEA Announces $355,000 in Grants to 11 ACSO Organizational Members for First Round of FY2018 Funding

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. The NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

“The American people are recognized for their innovative spirit and these grants represent the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “I am proud of the role the National Endowment for the Arts plays in helping advance the creative capacity of the United States.”

"ACSO is proud of its members. These grants highlight an investment from the federal government and showcase the highest artistic caliber ACSO members produce for their communities," said Mitch Menchaca, ACSO executive director.

ACSO members include:

La Jolla Music Society
$10,000 La Jolla, CA
Art Works — Music
To support SummerFest, a chamber music festival.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
$25,000 Los Angeles, CA
Art Works — Music
To support residencies with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani and cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason.

Los Angeles Philharmonic
$90,000 Los Angeles, CA
Art Works — Music
To support the Schumann Cycle, a festival of concerts.

Oakland Symphony
$10,000 Oakland, CA
Art Works — Music
To support Notes from the African Diaspora, a concert performed by the Oakland Symphony.

Pacific Symphony
$30,000 Irvine, CA
Art Works — Music
To support a performance project celebrating the 80th birthday of American composer Philip Glass.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
$10,000 San Francisco, CA
Art Works — Music
To support a music performance project.

San Diego Symphony
$20,000 San Diego, CA
Art Works — Music
To support a music festival exploring the connection of rhythm and beat in the human experience.

San Francisco Symphony
$80,000 San Francisco, CA
Art Works — Music
To support a performance project celebrating the 100th birthday anniversary of American composer Leonard Bernstein.

Santa Rosa Symphony
$10,000 Santa Rosa, CA
Challenge America
To support a concert and youth engagement activities featuring a musical guest artist.

Tucson Symphony Orchestra
$15,000 Tucson, AZ
Art Works — Arts Education
To support the Young Composers Project, a music composition program.

Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles/Heart of Los Angeles
$55,000 Los Angeles, CA
Art Works — Arts Education
To support the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles at Heart of Los Angeles (YOLA at HOLA).

Click here to learn more about all first round grants supported by the NEA.

Advocacy Alert: #SaveTheNEA

On February 12th, the President released his FY 2019 budget request. His request includes the termination of our nation's cultural grant-making agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Now is a critical moment in the process. Ask your congressional delegation for support of the NEA at least $150 million for FY 2018, and $155 million for FY 2019.

The proposed FY 2019 budget ignores the fact that Congress soundly rejected this same attempt last year to terminate the nation's cultural agencies.

To recap, Congress is still working to finish FY 2018 funding, even while FY 2019 is underway.

  • On November 20, 2017, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee fully restored the funding level for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) at $150 million each for FY 2018.
  • In July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the appropriations bill that included $145 million for the NEA and NEH.
  • Final FY 2018 funding is anticipated by March 23rd, the date current funding is set to expire, as part of the short-term funding patches Congress is passing while working to write final funding bills.

Now more than ever is the time to tell our story and make the case again and again at the federal, state, and local levels that the arts matter. Click here to take two minutes now to #SAVEtheNEA and send a unified message to Congress to restore full funding to the NEA.

*ACSO is a member of the Arts Action Fund and a partner in National Arts Advocacy Day.