Research has repeatedly shown the important connections between an arts education and student success in school, career, and life. Despite this, only 44 percent of students in San Mateo County receive some arts education at the secondary level, and only 36 percent of students from households with low incomes have this opportunity.

The San Mateo County Office of Education is committed to giving all students equitable access to arts education by helping educators develop relevant content, deliver high-caliber instruction, and create resilient programs.Strategies from the Bay Area: The Arts, Anti-Racism, and Climate Change

Upcoming Events 

The Arts, Anti-Racism, and Climate Change (Virtual Webinar April 15)

Join us in our virtual webinar on April 15th from 3:00 - 4:15 pm. This is a collaboration among six counties in the Bay Area, offering creative and critical strategies using the arts to support teaching and learning. Learn more about this event. Register for the event.

Counties on the Move: Arts Education for All Students

Counties on the MoveThe California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) Statewide Arts Initiative believes that the visual and performing arts are an integral part of a comprehensive curriculum and are essential for learning in the 21st century. All California students - from every culture, geographic region and socio-economic level—deserve quality arts learning in dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts as part of the core curriculum. Every student needs and deserves a high-quality education in the visual and performing arts. This publication is a celebration of progress in improving and increasing arts education throughout California through the 58 county offices of education. It is intended to provide a glimpse of the excellent work being done on behalf of students in California’s public schools. The document also serves another purpose. Along with snapshots of how county offices are supporting arts education, the information reveals the statewide arts education network and supporting infrastructure needed to provide leadership training, program planning, curriculum, professional development, and resources in arts education. Written in their own words, these short descriptions reveal different approaches in reaching our diverse student populations in California. For more information please click here or use the following link

The Arts and Social Emotional Learning (Create CA)

Right now, students need learning that supports their socio-emotional development, and the arts are unique in their ability to do so. Watch this video, and sign the pledge for arts education at Watch this video from Create CA to learn more.

Arts Education for District and County Leaders

California's Education code promises visual art, music, dance, theater, and media arts classes to each K-12 student, but only 12% of our schools are in compliance with that mandate. Watch this video from Create CA to learn how the research shows that arts can be a solution partner to every indicator on the accountability dashboard and what Create CA can do to help.Create CA Social Media Toolkit

Create CA #ArtsEdRebuilds March 2021 Social Media Toolkit

In recognition of Arts Education Month, which is celebrated every March, Create CA developed a social media toolkit to showcase the power arts education has in this moment and in the future. The toolkit features six social media posts and graphics focused on how arts education helps society rebuild with proposed copy for you to share on your organization’s social media accounts. Share these posts using the hashtag #ArtsEdRebuilds, and encourage your community to do the same!

Championing Arts Equity

On November 20, 2019, the San Mateo County Board of Education passed a resolution declaring the rights of all students to equity in arts learning. Through the resolution, the Board and County Office of Education recognizes the impact arts curriculum has on the cognitive and social development of every student.

In addition, the Board and County Office of Education adopted a Visual, Performing, and Media Arts Strategic Plan to promote equity and access to arts education for all students. The plan was developed over nine months with input from teachers, school administrators, leaders of arts organizations, and working artists.

Services for Educators

The San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) supports staff development in Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) in accordance with state mandates to address student needs. Support services are provided at the school-, district-, and county-wide levels through workshops, seminars, conferences, projects, and institutes.

SMCOE also offers less formal support by providing information to teachers and administrators, initiating collaborations and assisting parents, and sharing resources. It works with arts and education partners to create equity and access to high-quality arts and arts-integrated education for students, preschool through high school, in the areas of dance, music, theater, visual, and media arts. 

Annual Arts Institute

The day-long, annual Arts Institute for teachers has grown to include more than 100 teachers from across the county and provides educators with an opportunity to connect with each other, participate in workshops with experts from a variety of fields, and tackle important topics.

Creative Residencies

In 2020, SMCOE launched Creative Residencies, a pilot program to provide teachers the opportunity to immerse in hands-on music, theatre, visual arts, and dance experiences and develop mindsets to help build creativity. The program will include interactive sessions where educations create STEAM-based activities for the classroom that support the California Arts standards.

Student Opportunities

Art Takes a Bus Ride Competition 

SMCOE partners with the San Mateo County Transit District to coordinate the Art Takes a Bus Ride art competition for San Mateo County students in grades 1-12. The artwork of two finalists is displayed on the side of a SamTrans bus for a year, and student art is displayed on cards inside the buses. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Art Takes a Bus Ride art competition has been canceled.

Arts Expo

In 2018, the San Mateo County Office of Education created a brand new celebration of learning – The Next Big Think – that features not only a STEM Fair, but a countywide Arts Expo as well. This change reflects SMCOE’s commitment to STEAM education and creating space to celebrate students’ various passions and interests. Held every March, the Art Expo has grown in size and now includes 1,000 examples of student visual, performing, and media art and attracts more than 2,000 people.


Michelle Holdt

Coordinator, Arts & Restorative Learning


Phone: (650) 802-5335