Report-Out: Joint Committee on Arts

Joint Committee on Arts: The Creative Economy as a Jobs Engine

Crowd ListeningOver 100 people joined the Honorable CA State Senator Curren D. Price at Culver City's Museum of Design, Art and Architecture on the morning for February 26th for an Informational Hearing of the Joint Legislative Committee on Arts.  The subject: The Creative Economy as a Jobs Engine in California.  CA State Senator Roy Ashburn (18th District) noted it was fitting that a gathering on arts & culture was "standing room only."

Senator Curren D. Price, Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Arts, welcomed the crowd, citing Americans for the Arts data that estimates 44,000 jobs in the creative sector within Senator Price's district alone.  "The arts are not just entertainment," he said, noting that the gathering was especially fitting at a time when so many legislators are focused on jobs, as "many of them are arts jobs.  Arts creates jobs-- and we know how important those jobs are, especially right now."

Leaders from throughout California took the podium to speak on that topic, underlining the arts' role as an economic engine. 

Overarching themes:

Curren PriceArts = Jobs.  The Creative Sector is comprised of hundreds of thousands of Californians, from toy designers to actors to independent filmmakers, all of whom generate additional business in their communities through purchasing materials, encouraging tourism and being an active part of the business community.

A strong creative sector requires k-12 arts education.  Even as California's creative sector continues to grow, school districts are cutting arts education.  Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Chair of the California Arts Council, said: "People with arts in schools are productive citizens.  And we don't want to have to import our entire creative workforce from other states."  She also noted that the California State University system requires a year of arts education for admission. 

Brad Erickson, President of California Arts Advocates and Executive Director, Theater Bay Area, quoted a National Endowment for the Arts study that found that after participating in just one play during their high school years, students were found to be demonstrably more tolerant than their peers.

Otis College President Samuel Hoi, after speaking about the many jobs in the Communications Arts and Toys/Fashion sectors, said "We need to look at our k-12 arts education to prepare people for these jobs."

TestimonyThe Creative Economy is broader than museums, visual arts, music, dance and theatre.  It includes filmmakers, designers (toy, clothing, video game, graphic), digital media, recording artists and many separate jobs within each of those industries. 

In addition to Hoi, representatives from the Performing Arts & Art Galleries, Motion Picture & TV Entertainment, Digital Media and Music industries spoke about the thousands of jobs in the sector, the economic impact of the industries and the additional tax, tourism and related industry revenue they generate.

Selected Statistics:

- Data from the Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project suggests that for every $1 spent on arts and culture, $8 enters the local economy (cited by Erickson).

- Los Angeles has surpassed New York City as the fashion manufacturing center of the United States and has become a $71 billion local industry.  Direct & indirect jobs in the Los Angeles area for fashion and toy design top 232,000, with design jobs projected to increase.  According to Hoi, these skilled design jobs cannot be outsourced easily, as they require specialized training.

- 40 states offer incentives for television and film production in an effort to draw production away from California.  According to Susan Cleary, General Counsel, Independent Film & TV Alliance, California's new tax incentive can help bring production back to California; she praised California legislators for supporting the incentive. 

- However, as Robb Bohannon, State Issues Director of the Entertainment Software Association pointed out, "California is not competitive with incentives" for high-tech talent and digital media.  There is a lower cost of doing business in other states, who are aggressively luring visual media companies away from California.  Currently, 40% of the industry is still in the state, and 40 colleges or trade schools offer specialized training programs.

- Days of shooting for television or a motion picture can inject $50,000 into an area.  One day of shooting costs between $100,000 and $200,000, so production moving out of California has a negative impact on local revenues.  Amy Lemisch, Executive Director of the California Film Commission, said the film and television industry is the third highest in terms of jobs in Los Angeles County.  Incentives can help this production remain in the area.

clapping crowdThe Arts License Plate can help bring much-needed funding to the California Arts Council.  Shriver, Erickson and several of the public comment speakers urged all arts advocates to purchase the Arts License Plate.  Sales revenue goes directly the grants program of the CAC, which now receives only $1 million from the state government (down from a high of $30 million in 2001).  Despite its strong ties to the creative industries, California ranks dead last in per capita arts funding.  The CAC's current campaign for one million new Arts License Plates would generate $40 million in state grants funding. 

Shriver spoke about the possibility of installing arts plates on company fleets for production studios and other large creative industry companies.  The CAC is still exploring this option.

To purchase an Arts License Plate, please click here.

Research & Tools Cited:  Speakers & legislators referenced several excellent studies on the Creative Economy.  Arts for LA has compiled some of them below.

Photos by Dawid Jaworski.