Introducing “From Ricky’s Desk”: Policy & Advocacy Updates

“From Ricky’s Desk”

In our annual Community Listening Sessions, we heard requests for more frequent updates on regional progress and advocacy. This monthly series, led by Ricky Abilez, Director of Policy & Advocacy, will review highlights in state and local policy, advocacy wins, and calls to action. 

Updates
  1. We hosted 5 Listening Sessions and 1 Public Forum, culminating in a final discussion this month, which will inform a formal Progress Report scheduled for release in February. Stay tuned!
  2. The Governor released his proposed budget earlier this month. Key highlights with implications for arts education include: 
    • Increased funding for K-12 schools to address resource gaps and improve educational outcomes.
    • Investments in technology and infrastructure to support modern learning environments. This includes remote learning opportunities.
    • Expansion of vocational and technical education programs to better align with workforce needs. This includes recognizing completion of a bachelor’s degree as satisfying the basic skills requirement for a credential and improving transcript review to certify subject matter competency. 
    • Additionally, the Budget directs the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to create a new Elementary Arts and Music Education authorization for career technical education (CTE) teachers, for additional pathways for experienced artists to provide arts instruction in elementary school classrooms.
  3. We are thrilled to have a report scheduled with the Board of Supervisors on April 9, 2024 to provide recommendations on how we meet the promise of 10,000 creative sector job placements with a living wage for historically underrepresented communities. Stay tuned to learn more about how you can get involved!
  4. We are a proud member of LA28’s Local Hiring Work Group and continue to advocate on behalf of the arts and culture sector for meaningful inclusion in planning. The City Department of Cultural Affairs has released an important report on local preparedness. Read more here.
  5. In partnership with the Digital Equity LA Coalition, our advocacy helped the City of LA make history by becoming the first city in the nation to adopt a digital discrimination ordinance. Angelenos will now be able to file grievances regarding disparities in internet pricing and have them investigated by the City.
  6. Arts for LA is partnering with the Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area to produce a Prop 28 resource document specifically for Community Based Organizations, which will include key facts, regional expenditure plans, and FAQs.
  7. We partnered with Californians for the Arts to host a convening for State and Regional Network grantees to build capacity, envision opportunities for collective action, and uplift the importance of service organizations. 

This is merely a few of the many steps towards progress that Arts for LA is proud to be a part of. None of it would be possible without you. See you next month, changemakers. 

California Arts Council Changes: Take Action

California Arts Council: Proposed Changes

The Statewide and Regional Networks grant program is one of few that support arts service organizations serving as backbones in our arts and cultural ecosystem to build more unity, capacity, and collective impact.

The CAC Programs Policy Committee has proposed an end to this program, along with several other changes that would destabilize the field and promote zero sum thinking.

SHARE YOUR VOICE

Submit written comment ahead of the CAC’s discussion on November 17th, or tune in at 10AM PST to share verbal public comment in opposition to these changes. You can also sign this petition.

November 17th Agenda

Suggested Talking Points:

  • We recognize and support the CAC’s intention to find ways to more equitably fund arts and culture and address the historic marginalization of communities of color. However, the assumptions underlying these proposals do not fully reflect the lived experience of folks on the ground, nor do they address the root causes of inequity. 
  • We are grateful that the CAC is no longer considering the termination of the SRN program as it would create a significant void in funding for arts service organizations, hindering their ability to provide crucial support to California-based artists. 
  • In some cases, SRNs are fiscal sponsors that enable small unincorporated organizations to access critical state funding. 
  • Still, concerns remain regarding the change in requirements. We need more clarity on what constitutes a “arts producing” organization. How will SRNs gather the required data? Will support from the CAC be provided? Can the data gathering process be contracted out to a research firm? 
  • The constant changes made by CAC to its programs are damaging to the field and detailed implementation plans are important to build and sustain public support. 
  • Conduct a more comprehensive review of these proposals that considers the potential impact on the arts ecosystem.
  • Conduct adequate data analysis and provide time for grantees to plan and adjust when significant changes are proposed. 
  • Work in partnership with and unite the arts ecosystem to solve the structural problems that impact the agency and the field, including its historic undercapitalization. 

CONGRATULATIONS WGA AND SAG-AFTRA MEMBERS

A Statement from Ricky Abilez, Director of Policy & Advocacy

We want to extend heartfelt congratulations to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) on successfully reaching historic agreements with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). 

These landmark deals not only signify a triumph for WGA and SAG-AFTRA members, but also underscore the importance of solidarity in achieving meaningful change. By standing united, writers and performers have demonstrated their commitment to securing equitable compensation, improved working conditions, Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) increases, pension caps, and wraparound support like increased health contributions.

As we commend the resolve shown in these negotiations, it’s crucial to also recognize the evolving landscape of technology—including artificial intelligence—which poses both opportunities and challenges. It is more important than ever for all of us to champion the rights and contributions of creative human professionals while navigating the intersection of AI and storytelling.

The outcome of these negotiations serves as inspiration for future movements. It highlights the transformative power of collective bargaining and emphasizes the significance of fostering a collaborative environment that values the work of every individual in the arts, culture, and entertainment ecosystem.

Onward,

Arts for LA

Read more about the SAG-AFTRA deal here.

Read more about the WGA deal here.

California Arts Council Changes: Take Action

California Arts Council: Proposed Changes

The Statewide and Regional Networks grant program is one of few that support arts service organizations serving as backbones in our arts and cultural ecosystem to build more unity, capacity, and collective impact.

The CAC Programs Policy Committee has proposed an end to this program, along with several other changes that would destabilize the field and promote zero sum thinking.

SHARE YOUR VOICE

Submit written comment ahead of the CAC’s discussion on November 17th, or tune in at 10AM PST to share verbal public comment in opposition to these changes. You can also sign this petition, which advocates for $20 million in additional funding,

November 17th Agenda

Suggested Talking Points:

  • We recognize and support the CAC’s intention to find ways to more equitably fund arts and culture and address the historic marginalization of communities of color. However, the assumptions underlying these proposals do not fully reflect the lived experience of folks on the ground, nor do they address the root causes of inequity. 
  • Terminating the SRN program would create a significant void in funding for arts service organizations, hindering their ability to provide crucial support to California-based artists. It would also negatively impact organizations led by people of color and organizations that rely on SRN grants to fund their racial and cultural equity work.
  • In some cases, SRNs are even fiscal sponsors that enable small unincorporated organizations to access critical state funding.
  • The constant changes made by CAC to its programs are damaging to the field.
  • Oppose the recommendations put forth by the Policy Programs Committee. 
  • Conduct a more comprehensive review of these proposals that considers the potential impact on the arts ecosystem.
  • Conduct adequate data analysis and provide time for grantees to plan and adjust when significant changes are proposed. 
  • Work in partnership with and unite the arts ecosystem to solve the structural problems that impact the agency and the field, including its historic undercapitalization. 

Galvanizing Communities in Support of the Arts

MOTION FOR THE ARTS

Supervisor Kathryn Barger has introduced an important motion honoring The County Department of Arts and Culture and uplifting the impact of the arts on the economy and the general well being of Angelenos across the County. It will be on the next Board of Supervisors agenda: October 3, 2023 as Item #13.

The motion states “As the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, with the Arts Commission, celebrates its 75th anniversary, and the Arts Education Collective celebrates its 20th anniversary, we’re reminded of the longstanding role of the arts in our neighborhoods.”

The motion also:

  • Instructs the CEO to work with County departments to promote arts and culture events, educational materials, and resources, including content for social media.
  • Establishes a social media campaign to build public will and knowledge around the arts.
  • Instructs the Department of Arts and Culture to create a virtual map of arts programs in the County.
  • Requests cross departmental collaboration to identify potential opportunities for grant support, arts education, internships, and pathways.

SHARE YOUR VOICE

Submit Written Comment Here in Support of Item 13

Suggested Talking Points:

  • LA ranks #1 in the nation for arts providers per capita but #259 in government funding allocation.
  • With nonprofit performing arts organizations shuttering, canceling programming, and laying off staff, it is more vital than ever to uplift and invest in the arts and culture sector.
  • In a 2023 report by CVL Economics on California’s live performing arts sector, state and local governments lost nearly $1 billion in tax revenue due to pandemic impacts on the performing arts in 2021 alone, and if current trends continue, state and local governments could see a combined $4.1 billion loss in tax revenue over a four-year period.
  • In July, the Department of Arts and Culture made a historic investment of $31 million in arts funding to nonprofits, $26 million of which was through the American Rescue Plan Act, the largest public sector arts grant program in the history of the region. Though this is a major step forward, we must sustain this support.
  • The arts are so much more than mere entertainment and play a pivotal role in society: they serve as a reflection of our culture and history. They promote social cohesion and bring people from diverse backgrounds together, encouraging dialogue, and bridging gaps in understanding.
  • Active participation in the arts, whether through creation or appreciation, enhances cognitive abilities, creativity, and critical thinking skills. This not only enriches individuals but also contributes to a more innovative and civically engaged society.
  • I encourage your unanimous support of this motion and urge you to increase funding for programs like the OGP at The Department of Arts and Culture.

‘THE PAUSE HEARD ’ROUND THE THEATER WORLD’

LA Times: ‘The Pause Heard ’Round the Theater World’

Comments from Ricky Abilez, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Arts for LA

On June 15, Center Theatre Group announced that it would be pausing programming at the Mark Taper Forum indefinitely. As a flagship theatre at one of the country’s largest regional organizations, the news spurred shock, sadness, and even anxiety among performing arts leaders nationwide.

The Performing Arts sector is continuing to grapple with the repercussions of pandemic shutdowns and an unstable economy. The Los Angeles Times said it most succinctly, the result has been “drastic cuts to programming, layoffs, candid pleas to subscribers about an industry-wide emergency and, in L.A., the indefinite shutdown of what for decades has been the city’s most prominent and important home for drama.”

At most performing arts institutions, audiences remain under pre-pandemic levels and in 2021 alone, the state’s Performing Arts sector lost a decade’s worth of job growth. While some theaters reopened after two years of closure, many were forced to shut their doors for good, particularly those serving historically marginalized communities. The recent Center Stage study by CVL Economics found that if current trends continue, state and local governments could see a combined $4.1 billion loss in tax revenue.

CTG’s news is yet another signal that investing in performing arts organizations is more crucial than ever. We must fund SB1116, the law known as the Equitable Payroll Fund, and continue to make the case that the arts are not simply a means of entertainment, but an economic force, social reflector, and cultural beacon of hope.

I urge all of you to read this article, take action, and support the vibrant and gripping performances at regional theaters of all sizes across Southern California.

CENTER STAGE: THE ROLE OF LIVE PERFORMING ARTS IN REVITALIZING CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES

   

The Performing Arts sector has long been a bedrock of California’s vibrant creative economy. Yet over the last few years, due to the global pandemic, the sector has faced various challenges ranging from venue closures and operational capacity to audience re-engagement. To further examine these impacts, Theatre Producers of Southern California, Actor’s Equity Association, and Arts for LA commissioned a research report authored by CVL economics. The study found that employment rates were rapidly increasing before the pandemic (43% between 2001 and 2019 – twice as fast as the overall economy), however, in 2021 alone, the state’s Performing Arts sector lost a decade’s worth of job growth. If current trends continue, state and local governments could see a combined $4.1 billion loss in tax revenue.

1. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT!
2. SPREAD THE WORD BY SHARING OUR SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLKIT!
3. TAKE ACTION IN SUPPORT OF CALIFORNIA PERFORMING ARTS SECTOR!

FEATURED IN LA TIMES HERE.

ON STRIKE: STANDING IN SOLIDARITY WITH WGA AND SAG-AFTRA

A Statement from Gustavo Herrera, CEO of Arts for LA

As a passionate advocate for arts and culture, Arts for LA stands in solidarity with the members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) who made the decision to go on strike on May 2, and members of SAG-AFTRA who are currently in negotiations and voted to authorize their own strike if an agreement isn’t reached before their contract expires on June 30. We recognize and appreciate the immense talent, creativity, and hard work that writers, actors, and media artists bring to the film, television, and radio industries. Their stories captivate and inspire us and help to shape the cultural landscape we all cherish.

At Arts for LA, we believe it’s essential to prioritize equitable pay and a living wage for the tireless work artists and arts workers provide to the creative economy. Our advocacy centers access, opportunity, and sustainability which is reflected in our Creative Jobs Collective Impact Initiative.

We also understand the uncertainties and challenges that arise from this situation; that the pause in work has already had far-reaching effects on various sectors within the entertainment industry. From production crews to directors to technicians, the impact has been felt by many.

As an organization committed to promoting and advocating for arts and culture, we believe it is imperative for all sides to come to the table, engage in meaningful dialogue, and work towards a resolution that uplifts writers, actors, and media artists not only financially but also by valuing their essential roles in shaping the stories we love.

Members of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA deserve contracts that reflect the true value of their contributions. Together, let us foster an environment that celebrates the artistry of writers, actors, and media artists and that guarantees a bright future for the film and television industries so we may continue impacting lives through creativity.

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS DECLARE APRIL AS ARTS MONTH

ARTS FOR LA JOINS THE LA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS TO CELEBRATE APRIL AS ARTS, CULTURE & CREATIVITY MONTH AND THE APPROVAL OF THE CREATIVE JOBS COLLECTIVE IMPACT INITIATIVE

April 4, 2023 (Los Angeles, CA) — Arts for LA, the leading voice for arts advocacy in Greater Los Angeles, joined the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today as they declared April as Arts, Culture, and Creativity month to celebrate and recognize the impact of the arts and creative workforce in the state of California. The Board of Supervisors also unanimously approved the Creative Jobs Collective Impact Initiative motion, introduced by Supervisors Hilda L. Solis, District 1, and Lindsey P. Horvath, District 3, in support of Arts for LA’s coordinated effort to create 10,000 living wage jobs in the creative sector, especially in BIPOC communities.

“Artists and organizations in the creative space have never fully recovered, and passing this motion is another important step to fixing that. By focusing on cross-sectoral partnerships, funding, and culturally responsive practices for the betterment of all residents, we can prioritize intersectional and real-time responses to disparities in the creative sector exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said LA County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “I’m proud to lead this effort during Arts, Culture, and Creativity Month and call on all Angelenos to take some time this month to support artists and creative workers—a critical backbone of our economy.”

This motion aims to support the goals of the Creative Jobs Collective Impact Initiative (CJCII), a 7-year effort led by Arts for LA that includes the LA County Department of Arts and Culture and the Department of Economic Opportunity on its steering committee, among other arts and creative economy leaders, and envisions a thriving and equitable arts and culture sector. This motion will specifically focus on the CJCII goals of creating 10,000 creative sector jobs centering youth and adults from historically underrepresented communities, parity between the regional population demographics and creative workforce representation, and a sector-wide median entry-level wage that is at or above the region’s living wage as determined by MIT’s living wage calculator. It also highlights the ongoing work of the County to build an equitable arts and creative sector, as well as data reports released by the Department of Arts and Culture that point the way to addressing wage disparities for entry-level BIPOC arts administrators and opportunities to address barriers to creative career pathways for underrepresented youth.

“As it stands, artists and creative workers can’t afford to live and work in Los Angeles,” said Gustavo Herrera, CEO, Arts for LA. “Compensation for entry-level arts administrators in Los Angeles County is well below a living wage standard – this disparity is most pronounced for BIPOC creative workers which stands at $32,027 for entry-level wage. It is no wonder that we hear from so many emerging arts leaders, particularly emerging leaders of color, that they cannot afford to work in the arts and culture field. It is going to take all of us, working across the sectors, to create a more inclusive and sustainable creative economy for all Angelinos.”

“Arts and entertainment are the cornerstone of Los Angeles life and our local economy. With today’s motion, we are seeing an enormous opportunity to develop a robust future creative workforce with diverse talent from our local communities,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath, Third District. “I proudly join Supervisor Solis and Arts for LA in advancing the Creative Jobs Collective Impact Initiative to create 10,000 creative jobs centering local youth from communities that are underrepresented in the arts.”

“Investment in arts and culture today means a more robust creative sector, richer cultural life for our communities, and a stronger creative workforce for generations to come,” said Kristin Sakoda, Director of the LA County Department of Arts and Culture. “This Board of Supervisors motion builds on decades of ongoing programs, grants, internships, research, and coalition building by the Department of Arts and Culture that have expanded access to creative career pathways, invested in the arts workforce, and cultivated the capacity of our region’s arts ecosystem of organizations, educators, artists, emerging leaders, funders, and advocates. Yet there is more to be done to increase equity in our creative industries. I am excited to further this work with the Creative Jobs Collective Impact Initiative.”

About Arts for LA

Arts for LA, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, was incorporated in 2006 by a group of arts leaders who had met informally for years to discuss and address the region’s most pressing arts issues. Since that time, Arts for LA has expanded its reach and deepened its roots in neighborhoods and school districts across Los Angeles County. Today, Arts for LA includes 55,000 supporters, 400 Member Advocates, and 165 Member Organizations.

ARTS FOR LA’S POSITION RE: RACIST STATEMENTS BY LA CITY COUNCILMEMBERS

Los Angeles and the nation have felt the reverberation of the blatantly racist comments shared among the City of LA’s Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, and former County Federation of Labor head, Ron Herrera. Their words, and more importantly the sentiments that they reflect, are revolting, divisive and simply wrong.

Arts for LA stands for an equitable, healthy, vibrant, and creative Los Angeles, and we cannot continue to put trust in leadership that perpetuates abusive and harmful colonial legacies. We stand with those supporting today’s resignation of Councilmember Martinez, and calling for the immediate resignation of Councilmembers Cedillo and de León. Los Angeles needs and deserves representation that centers community interest, builds solidarity among Angelenos, and creates a compassionate and supportive environment where everyone can live, work and thrive. The recordings are proof that we need to continue to work as a community to dismantle institutional racism in all its forms.

We call on our artists and creative community to lift up your voices and use your special gifts to demand a Los Angeles united against hate and racism. LA needs healing and restorative justice; artists always have played and always will play a critical role in making that a reality.