COVID's impacts on arts education in Santa Barbara County; I Madonnari sponsorships available

April 28, 2021

During the pandemic, the Children's Creative Project (CCP) continued to provide outstanding arts education through their partnerships with school districts, professional artists, and arts organizations.  Carpinteria Unified School District (CUSD) is one of the many districts that prioritized arts instruction. 

Superintendent Diana Rigby said, "For a true education, you need art, music, theater, and dance experiences from the highest levels of artists. It's as important as math and language arts. With the resident artists provided by the Children's Creative Project, our elementary students enjoy a robust, consistent arts experience."

When the pandemic first hit and schools went to distance learning, Ms. Rigby contacted Kathy Koury, Executive Director, CCP, and they worked out a plan for Zoom lessons.  Ms. Rigby said, "Arts education is a major component in the cognitive and emotional development of our students.  It was critical to continue it as part of our core curriculum.  We are so grateful for CCP and look forward to having in-person lessons next year."


During the pandemic, virtual platforms have been used to continue instruction, but there has been a reduction in programming, because of the challenges of COVID:;

  • This school year, resident artists conducted visual and performing arts workshops for 11,668 elementary students at 25 school sites.  Compare this to 2019, where more than 33,500 elementary students at 74 school sites received instruction.
  • In the 2020-21 school year, multicultural touring companies provided 208 performances for 18,920 children at 39 school sites. In 2019-20, 400 performances for 44,400 children at 86 school sites were offered.

  • Typically a free annual performance for 2,500 elementary and secondary students is held at the Santa Barbara Bowl but was canceled this year because of the restrictions on large gatherings.

  • The annual $200 arts credit for each public school to help offset performance fees was provided to all schools this year, just like in pre-COVID times.

Not only has the pandemic impacted the method of instruction, but it also affected CCP's funding.  As a non-profit organization of the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO), CCP relies heavily on the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival each Memorial Day weekend.


The upcoming festival, May 29, 30, and 31, is virtual once again. It will incorporate sponsored chalk drawings on driveways by artists—from young children to professionals.  Daily photos of the artwork will be posted on the festival website, Facebook, and Instagram pages and remain up through May 2022. 

Businesses, families, and individuals are encouraged to sponsor a street painting square to advertise businesses or recognize loved ones and friends. "Squares" range in size from 4-by-6 feet to 12-by-12 feet and $150-700.  Square sponsors may provide the name of a "street painter"—or painters—of any age or experience level—or the festival can designate one.  Chalk will be provided.

Visit or call (805) 964-4710 ext. 4412 for more information and to register before May 7 to be included in all advertising.

Learn more about CCP and SBCEO.