Mission and Vision

CalArts works through publishing, film screenings, peer support networks, and community events to create and maintain conversations that matter. We value artistic expression that cuts across borders, that engages different languages, that seeks a different context. We are especially interested in prophetic voices, visionary artists, those who challenge our conscious understanding of purpose, place and meaning.


CalArts values having close relationships with all of the people in our community. We prefer having deeper individual relationships within a community of writers, artists, and contributors, as opposed to working with many who we don’t know well or who don’t know one other. We wish to grow our organization organically and we would like those involved to know they are making a meaningful contribution to the humanities and art through our programs and publishing efforts.


The California Institute of Arts and Letters was founded as a 501(c)(3) organization in 2003 under the vision and leadership of Jeff Munnis. Jeff founded the Institute with the help of Stelli Munnis, Mark Yoslow, and Jessica Duttlinger. From 2003 until 2007, CalArts operated entirely from the effort of its founders, who provided their services on a volunteer basis. Each of the founders have had full-time work or professions elsewhere, which prevented them from devoting full-time effort to the organization. In May of 2007, Stelli took on the role of Executive Director to help the Institute grow to stand on its own two feet, structurally and financially. Stelli is currently in the process of raising money from private donors, applying for foundation grants, seeking additional board members, and developing the infrastructure to support our growth. If you are interested in giving to our organization, please contact Stelli at 415-563-1816 or stelli@calartsandletters.org, or click here to make an online donation.

Goals for the immediate future:

  • full-time salary for Executive Director
  • part-time salary for Administrator
  • location for offices and for programs (poetry readings, award dinners, social get-togethers, networking, programs and classes for writers, scholar exchange programs, etc.)
  • funds for book publishing, awards, grants, and scholarships
  • funds for special programs (scholar exchange, first film contests, etc.)
  • endowment to ensure the future health of the organization

Projects in our pipeline:

  • the third issue of the Black Zinnias journal
  • Black Zinnias First Book Award, which includes a cash prize, publication of winning manuscript, and publication of a selection of poems in the Black Zinnias Journal
  • Mallarmé’s Prose Poems, by Robert G. Cohn
  • Judeo-Christian Voices: An anthology of writers inspired by the stories and traditions of Judaism and Christianity, edited by Jeff Munnis, with selections by Robert G. Cohn, Gerald Gillespie, Réne Girard, and others
  • The Dazzling Land, by Brigitte Byrd
  • How it Begins, by Carine Topal
  • The Selected Poems of Hugo Mujica, translated by Joan Lindgren
  • The Image of the Swan in French Literature, by Valentina Cohn
  • The Orange and Blue Drive-In, by Jeff Munnis
  • new editions of Robert G. Cohn's four major works in French literature on Mallarmé (we are currently negotiating with the previous publishers)
  • Meditations, by Robert G. Cohn


"I can't tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that art has often judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past has suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. I know too that the powerful fear art, whatever its form, when it does this, and that amongst the people such art sometimes runs like a rumour and a legend because it makes sense of what life's brutalities cannot, a sense that unites us, for it is inseparable from a justice at last. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts and honour."

—John Berger