Policy and Planning

Transportation for America State of the Art Workshop and Training, Yosemite Bug Hostel, Bodie Building
Joseph Kunkle, principal and director of MASS’s Sustainable Native Communities Design Lab and a 2019 Obama Fellow, presents ideas for creative placemaking design that is responsive to native communities.

In addition to community programs and specific arts focuses, the Mariposa Arts Council dedicates significant efforts to develop and implement cultural policy, be an advocate and aquifer of support for a county’s creative placemaking work; create art education initiatives/infrastructure, and, facilitate the connection between the arts and codified county priorities, constructive community goals and civic engagement throughout the entire county we serve.

Cultural Policy and Planning

Creative Placemaking Strategy

Creative placemaking offers a framework for promoting both a more resilient rural economy, and a more inclusive, representative, and diverse set of stories about our community. The Creative Placemaking Strategy seeks to support Mariposa’s unique cultural identity and facilitate creative placemaking projects that represent our region.

Adopted August 17, 2021. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant program.


The Arts Council is currently working with the Planning Department and a variety of community partners to identify/secure funding and conceptualize the most impactful ways to implement the following recommendations from the Mariposa County Creative Placemaking Strategy:

  • County-wide Mural Project (currently pursuing CalTrans Clean California grant program with the Planning Department)
  • Arts and Agriculture – Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Planning Grant/Working Land Working Artists 
  • Land Preservation and Interpretive Art Program (work in progress)
  • Site Specific Curated Temporary Art Intervention
  • Artists-in-Residency Program
  • Public Art/Creative Placemaking Database
  • Establish Creative Placemaking Strategy Advisory Committee as a Review Body for Public Art & Creative Placemaking Projects/Programs
  • Connect Creative Placemaking Projects & Programs with Arts Education Curricula/Programs
  • Establish Funding to Support Public Art Created by Local Artists
  • Develop Mobility and Accessibility resources and best practices for all Creative Placemaking and Public Art projects and programs
  • Promote a portfolio of authentic, engaging experiences that encourage tourists to stay in–rather than simply pass through–Mariposa en route to Yosemite. In turn, this will have a profound impact on local businesses and artists;
  • Increase community attachment and civic engagement by promoting equitable placemaking investments and production of placemaking deliverables that are more representative of Mariposa’s diverse and rich identity; 
  • Establish cross-sector partnerships between the arts community, government agencies, conservation and agricultural interests, tribal populations, human services organizations, and businesses to increase our community’s capacity to apply creative placemaking in support of our economy; and
  • Integrate creative placemaking efforts into existing and future infrastructure and other community assets.

Creative placemaking projects help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. 

Creative placemaking is when artists, arts organizations, and community development practitioners deliberately integrate arts and culture into community revitalization work – placing arts at the table with land-use, transportation, economic development, education, housing, infrastructure, and public safety strategies. 

Creative placemaking supports local efforts to enhance quality of life and opportunity for existing residents, increases creative activity, and creates a distinct sense of place.

Over the course of Creative Placemaking Strategy planning, the Arts Council and the Planning Department – along with cultural partners, the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation, design consultants, Atlas Lab Inc. and policy organization Smart Growth for America – developed several demonstration creative placemaking projects: Ah-Lo’-Mah’ basket installation; This Must Be the Place, a community photo project; and Seed Share, a community native plant kiosk. Each project was connected to the stakeholder engagement process that provided opportunities for community input and informed recommendations for a suite of projects, programs, and policies.

The Creative Placemaking Strategy Advisory Committee (CPSAC) is an official county advisory committee established to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors related to the community’s creative placemaking agenda. In addition to functioning as the primary stakeholder group driving the Creative Placemaking Master Plan project, the CPSAC facilitates and directs staff in implementing individual creative placemaking projects throughout the county.

Arts Education Policy

Strategic Arts Education Plan

In partnership with the Mariposa County Office of Education, the Mariposa County Arts Council recently completed a planning process and development of the Mariposa County Office of Education Strategic Arts Education Plan that charts a course for arts education and creative youth development in Mariposa. Informed by extensive stakeholder input from teachers, students, counselors, parents, teaching artists and school administrators, this plan provides a solid path for growing arts education across the County. Specifically, the newly adopted plan works towards the goal of every student in Mariposa County having access to:

  1. Equitable, sequential creative arts, TK-12
  2. Increased capacity and support for arts integration, and
  3. Student centered arts education that empowers students through voice and choice.

Importantly this plan has opened funding opportunities for recommendations within the plan. This plan folds into both the Mariposa County Creative Placemaking Strategy and the Mariposa Arts Council’s forthcoming Strategic Plan.

Read the full project report here from

The Mariposa County Strategic Arts Education Plan was developed by the County’s educational administrators, teachers, artists, parents, students, community organizations and interested citizens this plan is specific to Mariposa and reflects the nuanced nature of the community. 

Strategic Arts Education Planning Committee

  • Ryan Ballinger – Principal of the Mariposa County Alternative Education Center, MCOE/MCUSD
  • Phyllis Becker – Teaching Artist/Community Artist
  • Jen Beavers – Woodland Elementary 3rd Grade Teacher, MCUSD
  • Pete Bothwell – Mariposa County High School Visual Art Teacher, MCUSD
  • Rose Fluharty – Mariposa County After School Program (Middle School), MCOE/MCUSD
  • Cara Goger – Executive Director, Mariposa County Arts Council & VAPA Consultant, MCOE/MCUSD
  • Jill Harry – President of the Academic Boosters Club, Parent
  • Carol Hart – Mariposa County Arts Council Board Member, Biologist, Dancer
  • Joshua Kim – Director of Special Services, MCOE/MCUSD
  • Lydia Lower – Director of Educational Services and ELL, MCOE/MCUSD
  • Marci Messick – El Portal Elementary 5th Grade Teacher, MCUSD
  • Katie Pike – Woodland Middle School Teacher, MCUSD
  • Flora Savage – Mariposa County High School Counselor, MCUSD, Artist and Musician
  • Gracie Tafoya – Mariposa County High School Student
  • Tyson Wellcome – Alliance for Community Transformation/Pathos Printing
  • Peggy Burt – Strategic Plan Facilitator, California Alliance for Arts Education

Creative Youth Development

The Beat Harvest, Student Show 2019
Led by local musicians Adam Burns and Gail Dreifus, Beat Harvest shows are an opportunity for music students to perform in front of a live audience. The Creative Youth Development Working Group will help connect both new and existing programs like this one.

Together with the Alliance for Community Transformations (human services nonprofit), the Mariposa County High School and the American Indian Council of Mariposa County/Miwumati Healing Center, the Arts Council were awarded a grant in November, 2021 from Mariposa County Probation Department to build capacity for Creative Youth Development program and projects in Mariposa County.

Creative Youth Development is defined as deep arts learning centered in long-term, multi-generational relationships with artist mentors and culture bearers.

It is based in the community and culturally reflective of the young people involved. In addition to arts learning, Creative Youth Development projects and programs provide young people with holistic services such as mental health support, academic resources, college and career readiness, and opportunities to engage civically. The goal of this initiative is to build collaborative community capacity around Creative Youth Development so that organizations are well equipped to serve the County’s youth.

This program is supported by the Mariposa County Probation’s Local Innovations Block Grant program, and includes these partners:

  • Alliance for Community Transformations (Ethos Youth Center and Pathos Screen Printing), American Indian Council of Mariposa County (Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation)
  • Mariposa County Unified School District

This initiative will develop:

  • Best practices for working with youth, communication and recruitment materials
  • Assessment tools for measuring the impact of a program
  • Documentation strategies that can be used by all organizations serving youth in Mariposa.
  • Additionally, in alignment with both the Creative Placemaking Strategy and the Mariposa County Strategic Arts Education Plan, this initative will pilot several creative placemaking and public art projects that center the voices, perspectives and narratives of Mariposa’s youth.

Right now, we’re in our first phase and have gathered a working group of experts in the fields of human services, education, indigenous education, art, arts education, creative placemaking, and, most importantly, youth representatives. Campus mural projects are our first demonstration project attached to this initiative.

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