Back to Blog
Q&A with Andres Ortiz
Arts EducationStaff Spotlight
onApril 24, 2023

For nine years, Andres Ortiz, Arts Education Manager, has been a central part of the team that brings joy and creativity to youth. He recently accepted a new job with the County Office of Education. In this post, Andres shares on the power of youth voices and what’s next on his professional journey.

What are some of your proudest moments at the Arts Council?

I love giving youth experiences they might not have otherwise had, whether playing guitar or having an “aha” moment in a drama class. Watching them discover they can get up and perform in front of their classmates when they never thought they would be able to at the beginning of the year.

It’s hard to point out big things. We don’t know how a moment can make or break a kid. Or how the smallest act of kindness or moment of enjoyment through an art form might inspire a student to choose a career path. It’s a huge responsibility as a teacher.

I started in 2014 as a teaching artist and became the Arts Education Manager in 2020, so I’ve seen a lot. I’m excited to see the growth and sustainability of the Mariposa Arts program. I’m really proud of the mentorship aspect of Mariposa Arts. This year’s group of teaching artists and student teachers is extraordinary. Student teachers now meet at our Watsonville Center for the Arts. They’re tight-knit. The space feels like a refuge - a place for the kids and the community. It’s bittersweet to leave.

The arts have been a part of your life for a long time. What drives your passion?

As a kid, having the arts in my life gave me drive. They got me through tough times in college. The arts give me a different perspective on the world, and I love sharing that, especially with little kids. For me, the arts are a vehicle for expression and change.

What’s next for you?

I’ll work as the Student Leadership and Engagement Coordinator at the County Office of Education. Dr. Faris Sabbah started student leadership groups for high school students across the county. I’m excited to get to work closely with him.

I'll oversee groups like Youth Artists Taking Action, Youth for Environmental Action, the Black Student Union, and the Queer and Trans Youth Council, among others. I’ll also work to engage students with the local school board to amplify their voices so they have a say in what their schools invest in and influence policies that serve students’ wants and needs. Youth will have a place at the decision-making table!