California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

January 09, 2014Caitlin Fitzwater

Donn K. Harris Appointed to the California Arts Council

Head of renowned Oakland School for the Arts joins the state's arts leadership

 On Friday, December 20 Governor Brown announced the appointment of Donn K. Harris of San Francisco to the California Arts Council. Mr. Harris has been Executive and Artistic Director at the Oakland School for the Arts since 2007.

"I am very excited to join the Council in these dynamic times," Harris said. "The arts are rightfully receiving new attention as it is becoming increasingly apparent that creativity is the currency of the millennium. I look forward to working with my distinguished colleagues on all the wonderful programs the California Arts Council has established."

Mr. Harris brings valuable expertise to the California Arts Council through his extensive leadership in arts education and innovation.

"We are thrilled with the news of Donn Harris' appointment to our Council," said Wylie Aitken, Chair of the California Arts Council. "His passion and experience with arts education in our state makes him an ideal addition to our hard working Council. We are grateful to Governor Brown for recognizing Mr. Harris' significant contributions to the field with this appointment, and for recognizing that arts education in schools should continue to be at the forefront of the Council's priorities."

The California Arts Council will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, January 22 in Sacramento.

About Donn K. Harris

Donn K. Harris is currently the Executive and Artistic Director of The Oakland School for the Arts (OSA), a public charter school serving over 650 students with an immersive arts program. Prior to this, Mr. Harris was the principal of the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (RASOTA) in San Francisco. Mr. Harris holds an MA in Theater Arts from California State University at Los Angeles and received his teaching, Special Education and Administrative Services credentials from San Francisco State University. In 2005, Mr. Harris helped create The Academy of Arts and Sciences, a San Francisco Unified School District school designed to serve underrepresented students with comprehensive and unique arts programs, including a ground-breaking World Music program still thriving today.

Mr. Harris is committed to the arts and arts education as one of the key leverage points from which students and citizens can be propelled into the new creative economy. As a member of the Board of Directors with the national Arts Schools Network (ASN), Mr. Harris has served as the chair of the Arts Leadership committee, which has engaged arts leaders throughout the country in professional development and creative programming around arts environments throughout the country. Mr. Harris served as the ASN treasurer from 2012-2013 and will become the organization's second Vice President on January 1, 2014.

Innovation, creativity and access to the arts continue to be a key thread in Mr. Harris' ongoing work. The Circus Arts program at The Oakland School for the Arts won the Arts Schools Network's 2011 Innovation Award. As a board member of The Engineers Alliance for the Arts, Mr. Harris has helped to bring creative interdisciplinary programs to schools throughout the Bay Area. At OSA, an innovative recruitment initiative was launched to pair younger students at schools without arts programs with OSA students, who mentor and prepare students for entry into arts schools. A similar program at RASOTA from 2005-2008 resulted in increased diversity at the school. Mr. Harris hopes to continue this work and support the current initiatives as a member of the California Arts Council.

Click here to download a high resolution photo of Donn K. Harris.

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The Mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Wylie Aitken, Vice Chair Susan Steinhauser, Michael Alexander, Christopher Coppola, Andrew Green, Donn K. Harris, Charmaine Jefferson, Terry Lenihan, William Turner, and Rosalind Wyman.

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