California Arts Council "Arts Plate" Tags K-12 Arts Education

Tue, 05/22/2012 - 8:55am

Artist In Classroom Series - Student Work by Angels Gate, on FlickrThe California Arts Council is in the midst of a campaign to get one million California drivers to adopt the special “Arts Plate” for their automobiles.  All proceeds from the plate sales go the Arts Plate Fund, which supports K-12 arts education programs throughout the state.

California’s Arts Plate was the first special interest license plate to support the arts in the United States.  Created in 1994, it features an image by California artist Wayne Thiebaud called “Coastline.”  This innovative partnership between the California Arts Council and the Department of Motor Vehicles currently funds over 60% of the Council’s annual budget.  Since Arts Plate revenue is not tied to the state funding, it’s a secure and enduring source of revenue for the Council.  Over 300 nonprofit arts organizations receive grants from this funding in the provision of arts education statewide.

Public funding for arts education in California is the lowest in the nation.  Only Kansas, whose arts budget was completely cut by the state in 2011, contributes less money per capita in arts spending.  Yet California’s economy is inextricably tied to the arts and culture industry.  According to, the estimated economic impact of arts and culture jobs and companies in Los Angeles and Orange Counties alone is $201.1 billion dollars.  The Art Plate program itself suggests the sustainability of California’s creative economy rests in our ability to teach our children about the value of creativity, innovation and imagination.

Recent studies from the National Endowment for the Arts and the state of New Jersey have also suggested exposure to arts education can reduce drop out rates and bolster student performance across the disciplines.  In the United States, only Texas and Mississippi have higher drop out rates than California.

If successful, the California Arts Council’s campaign will generate $40 million annually for arts education statewide. Read more about the Arts Plate program at

Photo credit: "Artist In Classroom Series - Student Work" by Angels Gate, on Flickr