Bill to increase funding for the arts, stimulate a “creative economy”

01-29-14 LegARTScover2014_final_1.thumbnailEditor’s note: We were glad to see our community was represented at this gathering in Sacramento — “building bridges” with the rest of the state. In this case, The Center for the Arts and Nevada County Arts was present. Here’s the information:

In response to decades of budget cuts to one of California’s most dynamic industries, Sen. Ted Lieu announced plans to restore state funding for the California Arts Council to levels not seen in more than a decade.

“California is home to one of the highest concentrations of creative individuals in the world,” Lieu, D-Torrance, said in support of the role the ‘creative economy’ plays in the Golden State. “Artistic services and intellectual capital are essential to the 21st Century economy, which is dynamic, knowledge-based and increasingly global.”

Lieu, chair of the Joint Committee on the Arts, announced his plans at the beginning of a Capitol hearing on California’s creative economy.

This followed the formal release last week of the Otis College of Art and Design’s Annual Report on the Creative Economy. Known as the Otis Report, the study assessed the impact and influence the creative sector had on the economy statewide.

Among its conclusions: Creative industries, such as arts and culture businesses and venues, directly support more than 681,000 wage or salary jobs as well as more than 261,000 self-employed contractors, and include a total (direct, indirect, induced) contribution of 1.4 million jobs in California

The report finds that creative industries account for 9.7%, of California’s workforce– roughly one in ten jobs. These jobs generate $13 billion in state and local tax revenues.The report is here.

Arts and arts education have suffered severe cutbacks since 1975, when Gov. Brown, then in his first term, established the California Arts Council with the goal of inspiring public participation in the arts statewide. Much of this was done through competitive grant programs that helped build arts organizations, programs, leadership development, arts education in schools and awareness of the value of the arts.

When Brown left office in 1983, the Arts Council had a budget of $11.5 million, eventually reaching a high of $32 million in 2001. Since then, however, the Council’s budget has faced steady cuts. This year, the Council’s budget is about $5 million, which includes $1 million from the state general fund, $1 million from the National Endowment for the Arts, and $3 million from sales of the Arts License Plate. The agency also received $2 million in one-time funds from the Legislature for fiscal year 2013-14.

“No matter how you paint it, California ranks 48th in the nation in per capita spending on state art agencies, or about 3 cents per resident,” Lieu said. “This is an insufficient investment in the state’s art programs, and it means art programs and art-related businesses are unable to thrive, or in some cases, to even exist.”

Under Lieu’s bill, the Arts Council’s budget would be set at $25 million annually – or about equal to General Fund appropriations of 1982-83, when it was $11.5 million before adjusted for inflation. The intent of the bill is to maintain at least that level of funding, Lieu said.

Such an investment in arts is justified, Lieu added, when one considers that every dollar in state support:
• Leverages $7 in earned and contributed revenue;
• Brings back more than $3 in taxes to state and local governments;
• Employs 1.4 million workers statewide;
• Earns nearly $13 billion in property taxes, personal and sales taxes; and
• Translates to one in 10 jobs in California that are linked directly or indirectly to creative industries.

The analysis by Otis explored how the state’s economy is impacted by jobs in the arts, design, education, entertainment, nonprofits and independent creative professions. The report also analyzed numerous and diverse industries and creative individuals that comprise the creative economy, providing analytical tools for advancement of arts and the economy in California.

“As indicated by experts, by increasing our investment in the Arts Council, we will not only enrich the lives of Californians but will better support our creative economy as well,” Lieu said.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

2 thoughts on “Bill to increase funding for the arts, stimulate a “creative economy””

  1. An arts based economy would be beneficial in numerous ways, especially if it could replace large portions of our consumption based economy. An arts economy would be cleaner, sustainable and provide jobs particularly in light of predictions of continued massive unemployment and further job loss through automation. Instead of going out to a big box store and buying gadgets and clothing we don’t really need, we could spend the money on a night on the town.

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