The State of the State of California’s Funding for the Arts

May 30, 2009 by Lisa Newton

A world-class city like Los Angeles means that it needs and requires a vibrant cultural community.

A strong and vibrant cultural community is vital to having a ‘creative class,’ according to the ideas of urban studies theorist Richard Florida.

The Rise of Creative Class

In his book “The Rise of the Creative Class,” Florida explores what it takes to attract “knowledge-based professionals,” including scientists, engineers, artists, musicians, designers, writers, and any other professional who brings creativity to the task at hand.

The creative class, he says, “accounts for nearly half of all wage and salary income in the United States, $1.7 trillion dollars, as much as the manufacturing and service sectors combined.”

Travelin’ Local and many other people, institutions, and organizations throughout the Golden State could not agree more.

It’s just plain wrong that California’s priorities lie elsewhere than investing into the arts which has been proven to attract and keep the knowledge management class.

Art Walk in Culver CityShorting the future of our “Best and Brightest” by cutting off our collective noses despite our faces, by denying endowments for the arts, arts development, and for grants and prizes to individuals and organizations in the arts, is shortsighted.

Don’t get me wrong

I know there are many government programs essential for life’s basic necessities; but if art—and by definition a ample supply of artists–isn’t available to the masses, life indeed would be boring and according to the study mentioned above, a society and area requires a creative class to attract knowledge based professionals including scientists, engineers, designers and other professionals.

It is they who are drivers of local and regional economies so to deny the arts is to deny your future economic prosperity.

It’s a well known fact that, California is technically insolvent. That’s a nice term for being bankrupt–without the formalities, of course.

Because of California’s massive 40 Billion dollar plus deficit, California Governor Schwarzenegger is slashing the budget and many services to try and balance our budget.

How Arts Bill (AB 700) impacts California

  • It provides for unique grants for artists, throughout the creative fields to use their grants to pursue their own specific artistic projects and fields of study—from writing, to filmmaking, to painting, to dancing, etc.
  • It creates and fosters a society that celebrates the beauty that only the Arts and Artists can contribute
  • Without public funding for the arts, the choices for fostering new and promising youth who want to obtain scholarships to become more educated and worldly with respect to their field diminishes; artists, and professionals already in the arts won’t be able to undertake sabbaticals, special studies or projects, which limits societies’ understanding of what the artist vision could have contributed to our culture; it unfortunately adds massive inability for our regional and national understanding and appreciation that only the liberal and traditional arts provide us pursuant to the various grant process’ given
  • It weakens the fabric and rubric of society where otherwise the systems that make a city, and a region, coalesce

Culture Grants encourage students and others who otherwise cannot financially afford to study arts the following opportunities:

Movie MakingThe “Creative Industries and Community Economic Revitalization Act,” was put on hold until 2010 on Thursday in the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee.

Currently the California Arts Council imposes various duties on the council to foster arts development and to award grants and prizes to individuals and organizations in the arts.

The Arts Bill (AB 700) would have established a Creative Industries and Community Economic Revitalization Fund that would have required that 20% of all revenues derived from the payment of certain sales and use taxes remitted to the State Board of Equalization by the taxpayers, from specified lines of business, would have gone into the general State’s creative fund.

But it came to pass that the baby was thrown out with the bathwater:

Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank), the arts bill’s sponsor, said he requested, and committee Chairman Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) agreed, that the proposal be held over for a decision next year.

“It was clear that had the bill moved forward today, it would have been killed,” Krekorian said. “We continue to live to fight another day…. You can’t overstate how gruesome this budget crisis is right now.”

Krekorian thinks his fellow legislators will buy the bill’s main selling point: that money spent on the arts would lead to job creation and economic growth.

As an example, Congress approved $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the huge economic stimulus package aimed at saving jobs.

Water at UCLABut with the current economic climate around the nation, the anti-tax movement, the recent ballot box loss of the California funding initiatives, it’s going to be a long time before the Creative Industries and Community Economic Revitalization Fund will make a comeback in California in order to restore the Arts grant process.

But that should not get in your way of pursuing your dreams, your artistic and creative aspirations, and objectives–the road just got a little tougher; but it didn’t disappear.

In the meantime here’s how you can take action now to help.

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One Response to “The State of the State of California’s Funding for the Arts”

  1. David says:

    I didn’t know how far and deep that the arts affect the economy through the knowledge class.

    Great story and journalism. Hopefully the “brain trust” in Sacramento, will dig us out of the hole that they made.


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