The Arts in Ventura


Ventura’s newest website hosts artist profiles, organizations & venues in our city featuring dance, literary, visual arts, theatre, music, arts education, special events. Click on these links to:

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State of the Arts (SOTA) Monthly E-Newsletter

Send in your arts news●by the 20th of each month to: editor Richard Newsham 805.658.4706

●Every month 7,000 subscribers receive this Office of Cultural Affairs e-newsletter with calendars covering our county's cultural activities, services and resources.

Sign up here to receive the State of the Arts Newsletter

View past issues of State of the Arts Newsletter:

Children's Celebration of the Arts (CCA)

This distinctive City of Ventura program offers a wide variety of unique opportunities for the elementary classroom teacher to enhance the curriculum. Each workshop is one hour to one hour 15 minutes and costs an affordable $45 per workshop.

18 workshops include music, dance, and visual arts workshops celebrating world cultures and include Mexican Tin Art, Stained Glass, Hidden Art Through the Microscope, Totem Masks, Native American Medicine Shields,  French Impressionism, Sumi Painting, Persian Folk Dance, Hammered Dulcimer and Banjo Music, Photography Sun Prints, Visual Storytelling (Chilean and Egyptian) and five new Paper-Cut workshops (Daruma wish figures, Spring Windows, Japanese Carp & Pictographs and Endangered Animals Block Printing). We hope you will join us in this 24-year Celebration of the Arts in the Ventura Elementary Schools.

Give the Gift of Art!
To purchase a Children's Celebration of the Arts 2015 gift certificate for a Ventura Elementary classroom contact Kathryn Dippong-Lawson at 805/654-7552 or or use the online donor form below.

Register by February 20, 2015 for this year's workshops April 13 to May 29.

MAVericks Marketing Arts Ventura

The Cultural Affairs Commission (CAC)—an all-volunteer group charged with setting policy pertaining to the City of Ventura’s cultural and tourism efforts—is reaching out to the general public, businesses and our creative community with new initiatives to increase tourism and improve the marketing of artists and the arts in our city. One initiative is actually a revival of the MAVericks, a marketing program created in 2006, after a hiatus of several years. The goal of MAVericks is to help Ventura’s arts community come together and share ideas for marketing and selling the fruits of city’s creative talents, as well as promoting Ventura as an arts destination.

MAVericks: Marketing the Arts in Ventura Resource Guide – is now online and offers a comprehensive list of support organizations, marketing websites, services, a marketing toolkit, and an updated media contact list to help artists and arts organizations raise public awareness about their work. Think of is at a Guide to Arts Resources in Ventura - serves to provide an outline of business opportunities and resources for arts organizations, business, and artists representing all disciplines—broken out by region, state, and national emphasis as well as by discipline (visual, dance, music, theatre and literature).

Let's Plan An Event - brochure offers practical event planning advice on topics ranging from budget to volunteers to the permit process. Visit the Parks, Recreation & Community Partnerships Special Events web page for complete info. These publications were developed by experts in the areas of cultural development, arts marketing, and festival coordination. In addition, click the links below for additional arts org info:

Local Arts Organizations pdf Ventura Visitors Bureau Gallery List (2010 pdf)

Cultural Classes

The OCA provides a range of classes in the visual, performing, and literary arts, aimed at adults, children, and senior populations. Classes are held at the east-end Barranca Vista Center and selected elementary school sites. The program reaches over 6,000 participants yearly. Download My Ventura for a complete listing of classes in theater, dance, music, art, wellness and family events for all ages or click the Register Now link to sign up.

Get ArtSmart monthly cable magazine on CAPS TV

Watch monthly episodes of “Get ArtSmart” on CAPS-TV Channel 15  or on Facebook at  Get the full viewing schedule for future episodes at For more information contact Office of Cultural Affairs Supervisor Georgeanne Lees at 658-4720 or

View past episodes from the Get ArtSmart webpage.

Cultural Special Events

Festival of Talent - annual showcase of visual and performing arts students from the Ventura Unified School District supported by faculty, parents, alumni and the community. Feb 22, 2014. Tickets/info or call 805.641.5000 x 1550. flyer

ArtWalk - Galleries, businesses and sidewalks come to life with art exhibits that highlight Ventura's unique visual and performing arts community. Visit for this annual event now called the Westside ArtWalk.

The 4th of July Street Fair is a Ventura tradition begun during our nation's Bicentennial.

Music under the Stars in the Olivas Adobe courtyard occurs summer Saturdays July-mid-Sept at twilight.

Historic Ventura Walking Tour Guide (pdf) celebrates our city's downtown cultural district architectural heritage.

Cultural Funding Program

Created in 1993, the Cultural Funding Program annually awards grants to arts organizations through a competitive panel review process to support the goals of the 2005 Cultural Plan to: increase access to arts education programs for youth; increase the number of programs that celebrate Ventura's diverse community and rich history; and make the arts a major component of the community's fabric. For more information visit the Cultural Funding Program webpage.

Mayor's Arts Awards

In 2005 the Cultural Affairs Division of the City of Ventura, on behalf of former Mayor Brian Brennan, established the Mayor's Arts Awards to recognize the contributions to the cultural community by City residents, artists, educators, organizations and business leaders. For more information visit The Mayor's Arts Awards webpage.

Working Artists Ventura WAV Community Space

Working Artists Ventura (WAV) is the home and workspace for over 70 artists, who are painters, writers, jewelry designers, wood workers, dancers, musicians, sculptors and more.

Artist residents enjoy using their state-of-the-art WAV Community Space for meetings, celebrations, performances and art exhibits, including monthly First Fridays and annual ArtWalk events.

The WAV Community Space is also available to outside individuals and organizations to use as a venue for their private or public events and exhibitions.

For information on reserving the WAV Community Space for your event, please read our Venue Guidelines on our website; specifically:

VUSD Arts Education Master Plan

The Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) Arts Education Master Plan was adopted in 2009 to ensure that the arts are an integral, sequential, interdisciplinary and equitable part of every student’s education to foster inspiration, creativity and a life-long appreciation of the arts. The plan is a partnership of the VUSD, Ventura Education Partnership (VEP) Arts Collaborative and the City of Ventura Office of Cultural Affairs in the Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Partnerships. The Future of the VUSD Arts Education Master Plan (pdf)    Brochure   Video

Public Art Program

Visit the Public Art Program web pages
Public Art Projects
Active Art Projects
Arts Conservation Programs
Mural Design Guidelines and Other Public Art Opportunities
Ventura Art on the National Public Art Archives website


Percent for Art Program: The City's Percent for Art ordinance allocates 2% of qualifying projects from the Capital Improvement Program for the inclusion of public art. The program is overseen by the 7-member Public Art Commission, which sets policy and has approval authority over all projects conducted through the program. The program also includes the Municipal Art Acquisition program, established by City Council to document the history of visual art in Ventura by featuring and highlighting important works of art created by area artists. The collection provides increased access to artwork of high artistic merit and aesthetic quality through its display in the public areas of City Hall and other municipal buildings.

Municipal Art Collection on the first and second floors of City Hall features 100 works by 70 artists: open M-F 7:30-5 (closed alternate Fridays). Call 805.658.4759 to schedule a free school or group guided tour. View the Municipal Art Collection Color Brochure (pdf)

City of Ventura Municipal Art Acquisition Program: In May of 1999, the Municipal Art Acquisition program was established by City Council to document the history of visual art in Ventura by featuring and highlighting important works of art created by area artists. The collection provides increased access to artwork of high artistic merit and aesthetic quality through its display in the public areas of City Hall and other municipal buildings. The Municipal Art Acquisition Committee, a subcommittee of the Public Art Commission, oversees the purchase of master works in a variety of artistic media. The Public Art Commission plans to expand the collection in future years through annual purchase of major artworks created by leading area artists.

Technical Assistance: Management assistance for arts organizations and artists. This ongoing program includes individual consultations with professional arts management consultants, workshops, and seminars. Services focus on addressing needs identified by the local arts community and providing useful research and information on national, state and local trends affecting the arts.


"Weaving culture into every aspect of life." Flash-forward ten years: to 2015. Downtown Ventura’s Cultural District is home to a lively center for the arts. Artists are residing in an innovative live/work space that is sensitive to their creative process and variable incomes. Arts education programs have been fully integrated into the curriculum of our schools and all children can explore their innate artistic talents. Ventura’s unique cultural heritage is celebrated by the community in festivals that reflect each neighborhood's character. A fantasy? Not necessarily. All of these visions can become a reality when the goals of the City of Ventura Cultural Plan 2005: California’s New Art City are realized over the course of the next decade. The Arts have a positive impact on all aspects of our community, whether in the area of student achievement, public safety, economic prosperity or civic engagement.

Ventura City Hall Bridge Gallery

The Ventura City Hall Bridge Gallery, located at 501 Poli Street, on the second floor by building's rear entrance and parking lots, displays a seasonal rotation of current heritage and public art projects of interest to the community. Click here to view the current and past displays: Art-in-Transit bus shelter murals/bike rack public art

The Office of Cultural Affairs

The mission of Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA), part of the Community Partnerships Division of the Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Partnerships, is to: promote broad community awareness of, access to, and education in the arts and the city's historic resources in Ventura; provide opportunities and support to Ventura artists and arts organizations; foster cross-cultural understanding; and support economic development and tourism, especially in the downtown core. The Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) is overseen by the Cultural Affairs Commission, a volunteer body of 7 members, created in 1994, that advises the Council on cultural matters. Commissioners are appointed directly by City Council. The Public Art Commission, made up of 7 volunteer members, advises the Council on matters pertaining to public art.

The City of Ventura Cultural Affairs Division (CAD) was established in 1992 as the Office of Cultural Affairs, as a direct result of the 1992 Community Cultural Plan. The Plan was formulated through an 18-month process, and involved over 200 citizens who served on eight task forces. The Plan presented a guide for development of the cultural community, with the active leadership of the Office of Cultural Affairs, which initiated numerous new programs to support local and regional artists and arts organizations.

The OCA (Office of Cultral Affairs) provides programs through both direct delivery and extensive collaboration with local arts groups and artists. Its direct programs include: special events, art and history tours, public art, educational outreach, art classes, grants, technical assistance, workshops, the “State Of The Arts” newsletter and more.

By 1998, the Cultural Affairs Division had fulfilled most of the recommendations of the 1992 Community Cultural Plan and took the final steps towards completion by commissioning the Downtown Cultural District Plan. Ventura’s historic downtown was officially designated the Cultural District as a result of this plan. The OCA continues to work on the development of the district, including facilities, activities, and marketing efforts.

The Cultural Affairs Commission, a body of five appointed officials that advise the City Council on cultural matters, was created in 1994 and provides oversight of the Division’s policies and programs. The Public Art Commission, made up of seven members, advises the Council on matters pertaining to public art.

Contact Us

Staff and Contact Information

Staff offices are located at:
Ventura City Hall, Room 226
501 Poli Street, Ventura, CA 93001

Director, Parks/Recreation and Community Partnerships Department -
Elena Brokaw  (805) 658-4731

Community Partnerships Division Manager -
Denise Sindelar (805) 658-4793
Directs programs, activities and staffing of Civic Engagement, Volunteer Ventura! Program, Special Events, Public Art, Office of Cultural Affairs, Marketing and Graphics

Cultural Affairs Supervisor -
Grants/Special Events and Technical Assistance Programs
Georgeanne Lees (805) 658-4720
Supervises Cultural Funding Program, special events and technical assistance programs, edits "State of the Arts" newsletter and curates Olivas Adobe "Music Under the Stars" series

Community Services Coordinator - Education/Class Programs
Kathryn Dippong Lawson (805) 644-6542
Oversees Barranca Vista Arts Center classes and arts education programs including over 700 classes annually, Children's Celebration of the Arts Outreach and "Performance in the Park" series

Community Services Coordinator - Street Festivals and Special Event Permit
Michelle Godoy (805) 654-7749
Coordinates the July 4th Street Fair and and provides technical assistance for film, special event and block party permits as well as City Hall rentals

Public Art Project Manager
Tobie Roach (805) 658-4759
Directs current public art opportunities and programs