$25M Arts in California Parks Program to Support Events, Exhibits at State, Local Parks

State parks public art
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Photo credit: parks.ca.gov/

California State Parks has launched a new program, Arts in California Parks, to help make the venues, in San Diego and throughout the state, more inclusive.

Through this new program, artists and California Native American tribes will be eligible to receive funding to create artwork throughout state and local parks.

“The Arts in California Parks program will help cultivate curiosity and awe for park visitors through thought-provoking and emotional experiences,” said California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “The program will lift up and support artists, and create connections to culture, the community and the world we live in.”

The program, a collaboration between the state parks department, the California Arts Council and Parks California, is one of the many efforts underway as part of the parks’ Reexamining Our Past Initiative.

The public is invited to contribute to the development of the program through an online survey and to participate as visitors or collaborators.

Initiated by a one-time general fund allocation of $25 million that extends through 2027, the program will fund projects in both state and local parks that offer perspective on California’s past and present and help promote community connections.

Those interested in creating public art in California state and/or local parks are encouraged to join the new Arts in California Parks Artist Directory, a tool designed to help facilitate the co-creation of project proposals between park entities and creative partners.

The directory is a resource that will support relationship building and collaboration by allowing park staff to connect with artists and/or organizations based on location, medium and more.

“Art brings tremendous cultural and social value to public parks by adding meaning to our spaces and uniqueness to our communities,” said Kindley Walsh Lawlor, president and CEO of Parks California. “Art in nature has the power to inspire people to feel more connected to place.”

Opportunities for artists and communities to collaborate with park entities on funded projects will be announced in 2024, under two distinct sub-programs.

The competitive Local Park Grant Program will offer grant funding, most likely in three cycles. The State Parks sub-program has initiated more than pilot 20 projects, with funding for additional projects set for the summers of 2024 and 2025.

Two funded events were held Oct. 20 – a community event, “Procession,” at Los Angeles State Historic Park, and Sylvan Sounds-Sound Check at Redwood Forest Theater in the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.

Another takes place Saturday and Sunday for Día de los Muertos at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Performances, events and installations were eligible.

An advisory committee offering diverse perspectives is being formed to guide the development and implementation of the program.