County of Marin - News Releases - Arts & Culture Master Plan

For Immediate Release
May 15, 2019

County’s First Arts & Culture Master Plan Adopted

Supervisors advocate for equitable support across cultural lines

San Rafael, CA – After months of engagement with residents and arts-related groups, Marin County has a new countywide arts and culture master plan called Arts, Culture, Action, Marin! designed to define the county’s creative future.

Two female dancers in traditional Mexican dresses perform at the Marin County Fair.The master plan was developed by and for the community to ensure that Marin County has a sustainable arts ecology for generations to come.
Gabriella Calicchio, Director of the Marin County Department of Cultural Services, provided an overview of the plan and the extensive efforts that went into creating it during the May 14 meeting of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. The Board unanimously adopted the plan.

In her presentation to the Board, Calicchio said that after joining the County workforce in 2014, she realized that Cultural Services should be more than just a steward of Marin Center and the Marin County Fair.

“I felt that there was an opportunity and a need for the County and the department to play a larger role in the arts ecology in Marin County,” she said. “We have more artists per capita than any other county in California except for L.A., and yet, I would venture to guess … we invest less in the arts than most communities in California.”

Research showed that Marin enjoys an enviable abundance of artistic talent, but support needs to be shared more equitably. Other key findings included the struggles of Marin’s creative sector because of the high costs of living, declining philanthropic support, and a lack of coordinated leadership. The plan was developed by and for the community to ensure that Marin County has a sustainable arts ecology for generations to come.

However, even with uncertain infrastructure and funding for local arts programs, arts nonprofits contributed $76.4 million to Marin County’s economy in 2018. Those same organizations employed 1,650 full time employees and contributed more than $7 million to local and state taxes according to a study conducted by Americans for the Arts.

Calicchio said the main goals of the master plan are to:

  • cultivate and advance Marin as an arts and cultural center;
  • ensure the benefits of the arts flow equitably to every member of the community, and;
  • sustain and grow resources for artists and arts providers.

The plan was the result of countless stakeholder interviews, discussion group meetings, a statistically valid survey and its responses, a nonprofit arts economic impact survey, supervisorial district forums, and steering committee meetings over the past year. 

Calicchio said Marin faces ongoing challenges such as limited visibility and awareness of arts programming, audiences traveling elsewhere to attend arts events, and local artists being forced to move away due to high housing costs. Research revealed an array of economic, racial and cultural inequities in access to and funding for arts organizations and arts education in our public schools. The plan details steps to rectify some of the inequities so that arts access in Marin County is for everyone. The Cultural Services Department and its nonprofit, the Marin Cultural Association, will take a leadership role in implementing the plan.

Board President Kate Sears, who represents District 3 in Southern Marin, was a member of the plan’s steering committee.

“There is an incredible community of people (in the arts), and it’s the creation of community that’s really going to make us stronger and make the implementation piece of this plan doable,” Sears said. “… It was fabulous being in those (steering committee) meetings and seeing all those stakeholders interacting and building those relationships, so I’m excited about this.”

Read the plan at


Gabriella C. Calicchio
Department of Cultural Services

Marin Center
10 Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6400
Email: Gabriella C. Calicchio
Cultural Services Website