In response to decades of budget cuts to one of California's most dynamic industries, Sen. Ted Lieu today 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, including a detailed picture of the creative economy in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Among its conclusions: The creative economy supported one in seven jobs in the Southland in 2012, with an estimated impact of $140 billion.
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.
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