Sen. Ted Lieu’s Plan to Increase Arts Funding to $25 Million Annually Moves Forward

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In response to decades of budget cuts to one of California’s most dynamic and innovative industries, a plan by Sen. Ted Lieu of Redondo Beach to increase arts funding to $25 million annually passed its first policy test.

“California is home to one of the highest concentrations of creative individuals in the world,” Lieu said after the Senate Governmental Organization Committee approved Senate Bill 1432. “Today’s vote is a show of support for 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 in February at the beginning of a Capitol hearing on California’s creative economy. This followed the formal release the previous 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 $29 million in 2001. Since then, however, the Council’s budget has faced steady cuts. The current CA Arts Council budget from the General Fund is $1 million per year.

“No matter how you paint it, California ranks last, or 50th, 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 and cultural 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 as 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; and brings back more than $3 in taxes to state and local governments. When totaled this is equal to a $25 million investment per year in the arts, would generate $175 million in earned and contributed revenue, and return more than $75 million in taxes to state and local government entities.

Additionally, investing in the arts supports the wider creative economy. According to the Otis Report, on a statewide level, CA Creative Industries:

  • Employ 1.4 million workers statewide;
  • Earn the state 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.
  • Have a combined statewide economic impact estimated at 273.5 billion annually.

“In my west Los Angeles County district of more than 1.3 million residents, the creative economy supports one in six jobs,” Lieu said.

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.

For more, including a Fact Sheet on SB 1432, a link to the Otis study and a video of Lieu’s Feb. 12 hearing, click HERE.

Ted W. Lieu chairs the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee and represents the more than 1.3 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Beverly Hills, Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Torrance, West Hollywood and the Palos Verdes Peninsula as well as portions of Long Beach and Los Angeles including, Beverly Glen, Brentwood, Cheviot Hills, Harbor City, Hollywood Hills, Marina del Rey, Mar Vista, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, San Pedro, Venice, Westwood and Wilmington.

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