State Senator Ted Lieu Introduces Bill to Raise California Arts Council Funding to 1982 Levels

Wed, 02/12/2014 - 10:23am

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.

“No matter how you paint it, California ranks 48th 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 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 before 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;

     • Brings back more than $3 in taxes to state and local governments; 

     • Employs 1.4 million workers statewide; 

     • Earns 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.

“In my west Los Angeles County district of more than 1.3 million residents alone, 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.

Invited speakers at Lieu’s hearing included Wylie Aitken of Orange County, chair, California Arts Council; Sammy Hoi of Los Angeles, president, Otis College of Art and Design; Robert A. Kleinhenz, Ph.D., chief economist, Kyser Center for Economic Research, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation; Sonia Tower of Santa Monica, president of the Ovation Foundation and Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations; Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, principal, Metris Arts Consulting of Easton, PA.; David Malmuth,  I.D.E.A Partners, LLC, Innovative Design District in San Diego; Brian Ulaszewski, Executive Director, City Fabrick, of Long Beach; Kerry Adams Hapner, director of Cultural Affairs and deputy director of Economic Development, San Jose; Susan Straight, professor, Department of Creative Writing, University of California, Riverside; Author; Contributor, NPR and; Erik Metzger, Processor Architecture Patent Portfolio Manager, INTEL; Christopher Cabaldon, executive director, Linked Learning of Sacramento;  Matt Sorum, rock and roll hall-of-fame musician; co-founder, Adopt the Arts; Austin Madison, Pixar animator and story Artist; Shawn P. Sullivan, Art Educator, K9 Studios, Sheldon High School and Keith McNutt, Director of Western Region, The Actors Fund. 

For more, including a link to the Otis study and video of today’s hearing, visit Lieu’s Web site at the address below. To watch Lieu's Feb. 12 hearing, click HERE: (Note: This link goes active about 15 minutes before the hearing and is available only when the hearing is being televised.)

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. See a district map at: For more, visit

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