About Starting Arts


Starting Arts was inspired by the simple observation that something special happens when young people connect with the arts. A unique learning environment materializes where students think and communicate through images, music and movement. Arts education creates opportunities for students to develop key life skills and evolve into confident, articulate, team-conscious members of our communities. We believe that an education without arts exposure is incomplete and falls far short of extraordinary. That unwavering belief has translated into a mission: to make arts education accessible to all students in Bay Area schools.

Starting Arts provides hands-on arts experience in 4 disciplines (dance, music, theatre and visual arts) in classes taught by skilled professional artists eager to share their expert knowledge and passion with students. Classes are standards-based and align with the Common Core Standards.

Starting Arts, which began in 2000 at one elementary school in Santa Clara, has now served over 125 schools in the Bay Area. This growth has been facilitated by our ability to customize programs to meet the needs of each school and its community. We make quality arts instruction affordable and accessible by forging partnerships with schools, school districts, and arts organizations. Starting Arts assumes responsibility for organizing, scheduling and developing curricula at substantially reduced costs. During-school arts programs become financially viable when districts are freed from large administrative costs associated with permanent staff and curricula development. After-school programs become more accessible to students when rent-free use of school facilities reduces class fees and eliminate transportation issues for parents. Supporting this format of arts education is a low-cost, high-return investment for the entire community.

The rapid expansion of our programs and the continued enthusiastic participation of every school we serve is a testament to the combination of elements that makes Starting Arts both proficient and unique. Our experienced, competent and exuberant artists bring dance, music, theatre and visual arts to life. The flexibility of our programs makes arts enrichment viable for every school. A core team of competent, hardworking full-time staff give year-to-year continuity to our programs. And, a diverse board brings a wealth of business experience and love of the arts.

The time has come to plant arts solidly into the core curricula of Bay Area schools. EVERY school. One of our key goals over the next 3 years is to raise funds for at-risk youth and students attending Title 1 schools who don’t yet have the financial resources to benefit from the arts. Every child deserves access to a well-rounded education, including the unique learning experience provided by immersion in the arts.

Over the past 23 years Starting Arts has witnessed first-hand the positive impact of early and integrated arts experience in the maturation, esteem-building and civic involvement of students who attend our classes and camps. Join our ongoing mission to make arts accessible to every student in the Bay Area. You will be supporting and shaping all our worthy future innovators and world leaders.

“Art teaches children to see with a critical eye, create something new, or incorporate old ideas into a new vision. Arts instruction focuses most directly on creative thinking skills – the source of innovation and invention in the world today.”

– Ann Watts, Executive Director

Our Mission

Making the Arts Accessible

Starting Arts provides hands-on arts education in dance, music, theatre and visual arts, classes taught by skilled professional artists eager to share their expert knowledge and passion with students.