California Arts Council

State of California

Arts Council joins First Lady Maria Shriver at the Women's Conference on October 21-22
Highlights include programs from Alameda County Juvenile Justice and Venice Arts

Published: 10-15-2008

The California Arts Council will join First Lady Maria Shriver, California Poetry Out Loud 2008 champion Roshawnda Bettencourt, and an estimated 20,000 Californians at the California Governor and First Lady's Conference on Women on October 21 and 22 at the Long Beach Convention Center. Featured exhibits include quilts created by teenage girls at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center's Detention Facility, and photographs from Venice Arts, a successful arts program that provides after-school arts programs for at-risk youth.

Minerva Project QuiltsThe Minerva Project, directed by the Alameda County Arts Commission, is the result of a collaboration with the California Arts Council. Teenage girls detained at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center created their own interpretations of Minerva, the image on the California state seal and the namesake of the prestigious Minerva Awards. These awards are presented each year at the Women's Conference to five remarkable women who have made exceptional contributions to their communities and society. The artwork focuses on the Roman goddess's qualities of courage, strength and wisdom, and The Minerva Project encouraged the teens to think about these traits in themselves when creating their projects.

"I enjoyed working with the colors because it helps me express how I feel," said one teen artist about The Minerva Project. "I feel like I accomplished and finished something for the first time in a very long time."

First Lady Maria Shriver said, "I believe that each woman is the artist of her own life. My hope is that young girls will be inspired by The Minerva Project to develop qualities they wish to see in themselves."

On display as well will be exceptional photographs from Venice Arts representing selections of work by youth participating in Venice Arts' Documentary Projects. Venice Arts youth have photographed in Los Angeles and travelled nationally and internationally to explore themes of female identity, race and ethnicity, immigration and the impact of AIDS. Venice Arts' mission is to ignite youths' imagination, mentor their creativity, and expand their sense of possibility through accessible media-based arts programs.

Both programs receive support from the California Arts Council, which supports hundreds of important arts organizations through the agency's Artists in Schools, State-Local Partnership, Creating Public Value and other related programs.

The Conference also features California Poetry Out Loud champion Roshawnda Bettencourt, who will perform her award-winning recitation selections during the Conference program. The state's Poetry Out Loud program is a California Arts Council initiative with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation where high-school students memorize and recite classical poetry in a nation-wide competition. California's Poetry Out Loud is considered a model program nationally, as it has more students and schools involved than any other state.

Many of the California Arts Council's programs are made possible through sales and renewals of the Arts License Plate, which provides some 60 percent of the California Arts Council's budget to support essential arts organizations and programs for kids and communities. The plate, designed by renowned California artist Wayne Thiebaud and first available in 1994, is the nation's most successful specialty license plate dedicated to the arts.

For those who will be attending the Conference, the California Arts Council will be located in booth 2020 on the main conference floor, and a portion of The Minerva Project and Venice Arts displays will be in "The Village" section of the main conference hall. For more information about the Women's Conference, see the website at

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