Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 11:44 pm | Fair 65º


iCAN Ends Visual Arts, Music Programs for Santa Barbara Students

iCAN is ending its visual arts and music programs this month and transitioning to a charitable family foundation, the Incredible Children’s Art Network announced Monday.

However, visual arts programs at Santa Barbara Unified School District elementary schools will continue through a co-investment partnership next year.

iCAN was founded in 2005 and grew to provide visual arts programs for about 3,000 elementary school students in grades 1-6 at Adams, Adelante Charter, Cleveland, Franklin, Harding, McKinley, Monroe, and Santa Barbara Community Academy schools.  

The organization is ending all of its direct programming by the end of June, and will terminate all staff by Sept. 30, said Executive Director Jeffrey Walker, who is included in that group.

“The big shift is that the family foundation that has funded iCAN since its inception, the board made the decision to no longer engage in direct program delivery — and that’s all we have done is direct program delivery — and shift over to a grant-funding foundation,” he said.

 iCAN as a family foundation won’t accept any unsolicited grant proposals in the future, and funding decisions will be made by the board of trustees, he said in a statement.

Walker is unsure how many of the art teachers will be hired by Santa Barbara Unified, but said the majority of them were called in for interviews. 

With the end of iCAN-run programs, the nonprofit and SBUSD reached a co-investment agreement for the 2016-17 year in which iCAN will give $250,000 and the school district will commit $550,000 to the district-run visual arts education, according to iCAN.

With this model, programs will be expanded to the other three elementary schools — Roosevelt, Washington and Open Alternative — and transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students.

Adelante Charter School has a separate agreement for the funding commitment for next year’s visual arts program.

iCAN has a strong funding commitment to the district’s programs and its goal was always to catalyze social change, Walker said. The organization is also granting the district physical assets from each school’s sites art class, including ceramic kilns, tables and art supplies, estimated at $25,000 per site.

“It does place the responsibility on Santa Barbara Unified to build on the foundation that iCAN started,” Walker said. “There are an awful lot of parents and families that have raised expectations and very reasonable expectations on what students are receiving. I hope the district takes on that cause and supports it into the future.”

Walker said the district has had “a lot of positive movement” in recent years, not least of which is the appointment of Donna Ronzone as director of visual and performing arts, and special projects, in March 2015.

“Santa Barbara Unified School District is grateful for the support of the iCAN-funded music and arts programs that have benefited elementary school children for several years,” district spokeswoman Barbara Keyani said in a statement.

“​iCAN has planted the seeds for our district to continue to grow a vibrant program in the arts.”

The visual arts partnership with iCAN started more than 10 years ago, and the after-school music program — at Franklin Elementary and the Westside Neighborhood Center this year — has been in place for about five years, she said.

“All current agreements will be honored through the 2016-17 school year, per the memo of understanding. There will be no impact on the program,” she said. 

iCAN is negotiating with the district for a possible expansion of BRAVO!, the twice-weekly after-school music program for elementary students at Santa Barbara Junior High School, since it’s ending its own music program, Walker said.

“The iCAN story is not just a local one,” he added.

“I’ve received calls and inquiries and emails from colleagues all over the country looking at iCAN as a model for program development and working with a district in a positive manner.”

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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