South Pasadena’s Craig Watson Honored for Arts Council Role


South Pasadena’s Craig Watson was recently honored at the Armory in Pasadena for serving as the director of the California Arts Council from August 2011 through March 2017.

Under Craig’s tireless dedication and leadership, the budget of the California Arts Council increased from just $5 million in 2011 to nearly $25 million this year.

Watson shepherded the creation of the Council’s current strategic plan, guiding the agency into new and critically important programming and services.

Craig’s leadership led to the dramatic and significant return of California’s Arts in Corrections program through an inter-agency agreement with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

He also led the creation of new grant offerings that serve California veterans, youth in the juvenile justice system, public media projects, research in the arts, creative placemaking, artist residencies, emerging organizations of color, and more.

At the Capitol, Craig championed state legislation authorizing the development of California’s state-designated cultural districts program and spearheaded the successful revitalization of California’s tax return Voluntary Contribution Fund for arts education, the Keep Arts in Schools Fund. He fostered increased engagement with the legislative Joint Committee on the Arts. This included the establishment of annual hearings assessing the economic and cultural impact of the arts and creativity in California.

Craig nurtured the growth and development of a highly competent, diverse, and energized staff team and led the revitalization of the agency’s communications strategy.

He leaves the California Arts Council greatly strengthened and ready for the next chapter of leadership.

Craig began his career in the arts field at local arts agencies and arts-services organizations, and later built a career in the telecommunications industry before returning to the arts as Executive Director of the Arts Council for Long Beach.

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