October Newsletter: AB5 and more


News from the front lines, AB5:

Where are we now and where do we go from here?
As a small nonprofit arts organization, we are only as successful as our board representation. CFTA has twenty-three board members from across the state, representing the diverse voices of arts and culture in California. In this month’s newsletter, we will highlight some recent board accomplishments and acknowledgments.   READ MORE

August News

Dear Arts Advocate,

I’ll be honest. It is difficult to not be impacted and distracted by the headlines. I think often of what is our role as arts advocates during these challenging times for our nation and our world. Toni Morrison, American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher and professor emeritus at Princeton University and the first African American Woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 passed away Monday night may have said it best, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. This is how civilizations heal.” At Californians for the Arts, we know this to be true and we will continue to advocate for artists and arts organizations to receive the necessary funding and recognition to do the work needed to speak truth and provide creative solutions to bring people together in empathy and understanding.

We thank all of you that have joined us in advocacy and special gratitude to those that have joined us as dues-paying members. We want to be your sustainable and vibrant advocacy organization now and for years to come and we need your investment to make that happen. Advocacy comes in all forms and the work never ends. In the “good years” we educate our elected officials about the value art and the creative economy bring to our communities so in the “lean years” the arts are not the first to receive the strike of the red pen. Sadly, this was just the case for our colleagues in Alaska, where the State ArtsCouncil’s budget was eliminated by Governor Mike Dunleavy (see below). We know this story too well when in 2003 the California Arts Council’s budget went from $19.4 million to $2.9 million in 2004. Since then we have worked diligently to build the case for increased funding and are pleased to see total funding for 2020 to be increased by $10 million to $26 million. This is a great start, but we are still under $1.00 per capita per person. Our goal to see arts available and accessible for every Californian is still not met but with your support, we will get there!

This year we have actively worked on legislation that fosters the creative economy (SB736), creativity in our youth (SB 748) and advocated to protect artists and arts organizations from legislation that may hinder our viability and productivity (AB 5). We are a consistent presence at our State Capitol to make sure the arts are at the table.

We would love to learn how you are bringing arts, culture and creativity to your communities. Share your stories with us and as always, share them with your elected officials too!

Thank you for all that you do to advance arts, culture and creativity in California,


Julie Baker, Executive Director



Legislative News


August 12: Legislature reconvenes from Summer Recess

September 13: Last day for any bills to be passed


SB 748: Youth Poet Laureate: Approved by the Governor on July 30, 2019

SB 736: Creative Economy Incentive Program, we sit on the stakeholder committee

AB 5: This is legislation that would codify the Dynamex Decision that presumes a worker is an employee unless a hiring entity satisfies a three-factor test.

  • a) The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.

  • b) The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.

  • C) The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

  • The b portion of the test is the major amendment that could impact artists and the arts industries.

We’ve been aggressively working to receive exemptions for the arts. So far, due to our efforts, this exemption has been added into the bill: Fine artists, professional grant writers, and graphic designers if that person actually sets the hours, locations, and rates of pay for work provided.

We continue to work on exemptions for performing artists.


On June 25, the U.S. House again rejected President Trump’s FY 2020 proposal to eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and other cultural agencies. The House voted to increase FY 2020 funding for the NEA and the NEH by $12.5 million to a level of$167.5 million! We are hopeful that the U.S. Senate will follow suit in the coming weeks as they begin their appropriations process. Let your elected officials know, you want to see funding increase for the NEA and NEH here.



“The savings justifications used by the governor do not reflect the real mathematics of what the state gains through ASCA” wrote Pam Breaux, President and CEO of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) in a recent letter to colleagues. “The override failure also makes Alaska the only state in the nation without a functioning state arts agency—a keen loss to Alaskan communities.” Learn More


Learn how you can get involved here.


Stanlee Gatti, 63, of San Francisco, has been appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom as the newest member to the California Arts Council.

More details in our CAC’s press release.

Mary Anne Carter Confirmed as Chairwoman for National Endowment for the Arts

On August 1, 2019, The United States Senate voted today to confirm Mary Anne Carter as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Carter had served as acting chairman of the agency since June 5, 2018 and becomes the Arts Endowment’s 12th chairman since its inception in 1965. Learn More

CFTA / CAA Board Member News


President – Victoria L. Hamilton

Vice President – Ron P. Muriera

Treasurer – Brad Erickson

Secretary – Rachel Osajima


Leticia Rho Buckley was appointed in March 2019 as Senior Civic Strategist at The Music Center, L.A.’s major performing arts center (Center Theatre Group, the LA Master Chorale, the LA Opera and the LA Philharmonic, Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance) where she had served from 2005-2010 as Director of Marketing and Communications. Prior to re-joining The Music Center, she was Acting Executive Director, Acting Chief Deputy and Director of Communications and Marketing for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, which provides leadership in cultural services for the County’s 88 municipalities and over ten million residents. Previously, Leticia held a senior marketing position with Cirque du Soleil where she developed and led all marketing and publicity strategies for IRIS, A Journey Through the World of Cinema, the first Cirque du Soleil resident production in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University.



Heather Angelina Dunn is a Partner at the law firm of DLA Piper in San Francisco. She concentrates her practice on domestic and international trademark prosecution and counseling, and enforcement programs, advertising and promotions, intellectual property and art law counseling. Trained as an artist at Rhode Island School of Design, she received her J.D. at the University of San Francisco and is a resident of Oakland. She has been associated with California Lawyers for the Arts.




Edmund Velasco has served on the Executive Board for the Orange County Musicians’ Union (Local 7, American Federation of Musicians) since 2003 and was elected Vice President in 2016, where he is actively involved in advocacy activities. A native Southern Californian, he began playing the saxophone at age 8 and has become recognized as one of the top saxophonists in the region. Edmund can be seen as a featured soloist with The Estrada Brothers Latin Jazz Ensemble and has recorded with the group. He is a member of the Chris Williams Quintet and has made many guest appearances with Dan Fanley, Joe LaBarbera, Tony Dumas, and Ron Escheté, among others. He has also played professionally with such top names as Mel Tormé, Eddie Daniels and Ernie Andrews, to name a few. Edmund leads, directs and writes for his own quintet. He has produced multiple CDs for the group. He is on the advisory board for SanArts, an arts conservatory at Santa Ana High School in Santa Ana, CA, and he has developed several concert series for the Orange County community as both an arts outreach and educational program for aspiring musicians.



In June we launched our first membership drive. Our goal was $20,000 but unfortunately, we fell short of our goal, reaching less than $8000 during the drive. We truly appreciate everyone who joined! It’s not too late however to become a member. Membership is good for one year and supports our efforts to increase funding for the arts, build public awareness of the value of arts, culture and creativity as well as legislation that serves and protects artists and arts organizations.


Why Your Membership Matters

At Californians for the Arts, we’ve done an impressive job of building public awareness of the arts and advocating for increased state funding levels to over 800% in 5 years. However, we need help advocating for ourselves!

We want to be your viable and sustainable arts advocacy organization to support and benefit all Californians. We need your support to expand our programs, outreach, and services and build our capacity to serve the needs of the 5th largest economy in the world and the most populous and diverse state in America. Arts champions deserve a voice and Californians for the Arts is here to represent you.

We work with you and for you.

We rely on our members to be active arts advocates, and in return, we promise to deliver quality leadership opportunities, reliable information, and advocacy resources.

Advocacy Works! Your June News.

Dear Arts Advocate,

Welcome to Summer! Somehow we’ve all made it 1/2 way through 2019!

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We’ve never been busier at Californians for the Arts. The first four months of the year we produced eleven free advocacy trainings and a webinar, Arts, Culture and Creativity Month, Arts Advocacy Day and multiple speaking engagements. In the last several months, we’ve visited the Capitol to speak on behalf of artists and arts organizations at budget sub-committee hearings, legislative hearings and at the Joint Committee on the Arts. We are dedicated to increasing public funding for the arts and legislation that values and protects the creative sector.

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Recently, Californians for the Arts launched their first membership drive. Their goal is to raise $20,000 by the end of June. To date, they have raised just under $3000. Looking ahead they are building an emerging leadership program and a conference for April 2020.

For many of us in the non-profit sector, our challenge is to build capacity and organizational sustainability while providing thought-provoking, relevant and meaningful programs with few resources. CFTA is not immune to this! They are virtual with only one staff person; many people don’t understand what advocacy is and even confuse us with the state arts agency; funders are often regional or focused on specific topics such as Arts Education and some shy away from advocacy altogether. Sadly this is not only our problem but something we see across the U.S. We were most recently reminded of the fragility of state arts advocacy organizations with the announcement of the closing of Creative Many Michigan.

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We know that advocacy works and having a statewide organization in place to herald the merits, value, and impact of arts, culture and creativity is as we believe critical to a successful, vibrant and healthy California (and every other state for that matter).

Many of you self identify as ARTS CHAMPIONS. If that is how you see yourself, please consider joining Californians for the Arts. We are a non-profit organization, your contribution is tax deductible and at certain levels, you get some super cool ARTS CHAMPIONS swag.

So please Join Today during our membership drive.

Believe in the power of advocacy to effect change, believe in the power of art to impact our lives, our communities and our economy, and show your superpower as an ARTS CHAMPION today!

Thank you!

Debra or Victoriad32b4-victoria_s-signature1

Victoria Hamilton, Board President



Julie Baker, Executive Director





Awarded project designs span the whole of the arts and cultural fields, with funding offered in 14 unique grant program areas addressing access, equity, and inclusion; community vibrancy; and arts learning and engagement; and aligning with the California Arts Council’s vision of a state strengthened by a spectrum of art and artists.

If you were just awarded a grant from the California Arts Council (CAC), congratulations. You may also know a little bit about how CAC only recently gained sufficient funds to be awarding these grants—after a 12 year period in which the entire funding for the agency was only $1 million statewide!

This did not come about by accident—CFTA and our partner organization CAA, has worked very hard for the past six years, aggressively lobbying for funds from the Governor and Legislature. We have succeeded in raising the agency budget to $28 million, and the momentum shows promise for continued increases in the years ahead.

We are asking you now to please re-invest a small portion of the grant you just received into a membership in California Arts Advocates (CAA), which directly lobbies for these funds. In addition to paying for an Executive Director, CAA membership dues also help pay for our lobbyist—and we have one of the top Sacramento lobbying firms working on our behalf!

You can register your organization as a member HERE.


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In this exciting new podcast series, Ben is joined by former U.S. Senator Mark Begich of Alaska (also donating his time) in interviewing the 2020 presidential candidates in a 30-minute format on each candidate’s personal background in the arts and arts education, previous policy efforts to transform their communities through the arts, and their vision for advancing support for the arts and the charitable sector if they were to become president.

Ben has already interviewed three presidential candidates:
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Congressman John Delaney, and Governor John Hickenlooper. The goal is to interview every single one of the declared presidential candidates on behalf of Arts Action Fund members.  LISTEN


We are grateful to the folks at the San Diego Creative Youth Development Network for this video produced by David’s Harp Foundation from Arts Advocacy Day.

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2019-20 Budget has gone to conference committee. The $10 million in increased and permanent funding for the California Arts Council passed both subcommittees and we expect to see it in the final budget scheduled to be approved on June 15.

In Governor Newsom’s May Budget Revise, he also announced $10 million in additional funding for two capital projects; $5 million for the Armenian American Museum and $5 million to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.

Although we are not opposed to this funding allocation, we do not feel it should be a pass-through for CAC as it is inconsistent with the CAC’s mission and objective as a granting agency and it is not in their charter to fund Capital projects. We have made our voice heard in public meetings and in letters to the chairs of various committees. This decision is now being heard in conference committee.

AB 5 Worker Status: Employees and Independent Contractors
Introduced by Assemblywoman Gonzalez

We are monitoring this bill and the impact it has on the arts and creative sector and are drafting a case for an exemption for the creative industries worker.

If you are currently working in the arts as an independent contractor and have concerns that becoming an employee would cause undue hardship to your livelihood, your rights to owning intellectual property or any other ramifications, please contact us.

Click HERE for upcoming events!

May Arts Advocacy News


Executive Director Julie Baker

Greetings Arts Advocates!

In today’s e-newsletter, you’ll find the latest information on the California State budget and legislative news pertaining to the arts and creative sectors. Please contact us should you have any questions or need further information. There are no action alerts at this time but we are monitoring several legislative items for the field. Executive Director Julie Baker, pictured right, has been invited to serve on a task force for a creative economy incentive program to represent the voice of the arts community.

Although our primary mission is to advocate for arts funding and legislation at the State Level, we also provide programs and services for local advocacy across the State. If you think your community needs to build its advocacy muscle, let us know. We offer “10 ways to be an effective advocate” and “How to develop an effective advocacy message” trainings and workshops and can customize to your immediate needs.

Contact Julie Baker for more information.

Thank you for all that you do to advance arts, culture & creativity in California!


Julie Baker, Executive Director


Victoria Hamilton, Board President


On May 9 Governor Newsom released his May revise of the budget
The Governor’s Budget included $10 million ongoing General Fund to expand grant programs that offer support for public access to the arts, arts education, and the state’s cultural infrastructure. Californians for the Arts and California Arts Advocates have attended the relevant budget subcommittee hearings and testified in public comment in support of the funding. There has been no opposition to the appropriation.

AB 5  Worker Status: Employees and Independent Contractors.
Introduced by Assemblywoman Gonzalez

We are monitoring this bill and the impact it has on the arts and creative sector. If you are currently working in the arts as an independent contractor and have concerns that becoming an employee would cause hardship to your livelihood, your rights to owning intellectual property or any other ramifications, please contact us. We are working on proposed amendment language and building our case statement, your voice is important, please send us your story.

SB 736 Creative Economy Task Force
Introduced by Senator Umberg

Senate Bill 736 establishes the California Creative Economy Incentive Program (CEIP), to be managed by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), for the purpose of administering loans to cities, counties, and joint powers agencies to provide assistance in financing a creative economy event. The first step is to create a Task Force. Julie Baker, CFTA ED has been invited to be on the task force to represent the voice of the arts community.

SB 748 California Youth Poet Laureate
Introduced by Senator Stern

5/9/18 Passed in the Senate


Riding the Wave of the Creative Economy:

Growth Challenges and Building Education Equity into the Jobs Pipeline
Wednesday, May 15th, 9am-12pm
State Capitol, Room 2040, Sacramento

Being an effective advocate means we must show up and demonstrate our collective strength and let our voices be heard. Here is an opportunity to show legislators how much the arts matter to you and your community.

Don’t miss the Joint Committee on the ArtsHearing, May 15, Sacramento!

We want to there to be a full hearing room with passionate arts leaders, join us! Please share and invite friends.


190515 Create CA Event Speaker CompositeCREATE CALIFORNIA WEBINAR

Reach for the Stars:
Arts-based Pedagogy as a Pathway to Excellence & Equity

Wednesday, May 15th, 11:00am, Online

We think of the stars as beyond our reach, yet each of us carries within us, both figuratively and literally, the same stuff that stars are made of. The arts, by tapping into our students’ most powerful inner selves, allow their brilliance to shine forth and make it possible for them to define their full potential and to live their true lives. In this way, the arts are a path to both excellence and equity.

Speakers: Dr. Yvette Jackson, Adjunct Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University and Senior Scholar for National Urban Alliance; author of “Pedagogy of Confidence; Inspiring High Intellectual Performance in Urban Schools.

Join the Webinar on Wednesday, May 15th at 11 am.
RSVP to register.


190510 Your Voice Matters Comp.jpgTake the California Arts Council Stakeholder Survey

As part of the process of developing our new strategic framework, we want to listen to as many new voices as possible. There’s a seat at the table for anyone with a rooted interest in the future of arts, culture, and community in our state. Click here to take the survey and help spread the word.

Participation is requested by June 10.


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The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) convened a briefing for policymakers on Capitol Hill on May 2, 2019, on Arts and Rural Prosperity. Endorsed by the Congressional Arts Caucus, the event shared new research and vivid examples demonstrating the power of creativity and culture to help rural communities thrive. Watch the archived webcast

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The 2019 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention is heading to the Twin Cities!


We will be there, will you? Let us know so we can meet up!



Arts, Culture and Creativity Month

We love reading the survey results from Arts Advocacy Day. Please take 5 minutes to let us know what you thought of the day!

Here’s a wonderful testimonial from a participant:

“Participating in Arts Advocacy Day 2019 was truly eye-opening for me, as it was my first time engaging in advocacy or lobbying of any kind. I enjoyed being part of the political process and knowing that I have a voice at the state Capitol. The rally in the morning was inspiring, and it was so wonderful to see different types of arts represented from across California. It motivated me to continue advocating for the arts. Thank you Californians for the Arts!” – AMMC Arts Advocacy Day Participant

Pictured above, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins meeting with San Diego Delegation led by CFTA Board President Victoria Hamilton.

Pictured above, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins meeting with San Diego Delegation led by CFTA Board President Victoria Hamilton.

CFTA Executive Director Julie Baker was recently invited to speak at a panel on art advocacy in Sacramento with Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Niva Flor, and Jack Mitchell at The Atrium – Art, Tech & Events and to lead an advocacy training in Truckee, CA with the Truckee Arts Alliance and Nevada County Arts Council.

Although our primary mission is to advocate for arts funding and legislation at the State Level, we also provide programs and services for local advocacy across the State. If you think your community needs to build its advocacy muscle, let us know. We offer “10 ways to be an effective advocate” and “How to develop an effective advocacy message” trainings and workshops and can customize to your immediate needs. Contact Julie at membership@californiansforthearts.org for more information.

Arts Advocacy Day a “Huge Success”!

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Pictured above, arts advocates gather on the south side steps of the Capitol on April 23rd as part of Arts, Culture and Creativity Month’s first annual Arts Advocacy Day.


State Senator Scott Wilk receives the 2019 Legislative Arts Star Award Pictured here with Julie Baker, the Executive Director of  Californians for the Arts , Keasha Dumas Heath, Board Member of the Museum of African American Art and artist, Christie Fields.

State Senator Scott Wilk receives the 2019 Legislative Arts Star Award Pictured here with Julie Baker, the Executive Director of Californians for the Arts, Keasha Dumas Heath, Board Member of the Museum of African American Art and artist, Christie Fields.

On Tuesday, April 23, 2019 we officially inaugurated ArtsAdvocacy Day by gathering over 200 people on the South Side of the Capitol in downtown Sacramento, California and scheduling over 65 visits with legislatures led by Captains from across the state and Californians for the Arts outstanding board. Over 50% of the legislature received visits from arts advocates asking for support for Governor Newsom’s $10 million funding increase to the State Arts Agency as well as a number of bills supporting arts education, museums, a youth poet laureate and recognition of our cultural districts pilot program and the success of arts in corrections.

With impeccable weather, this day full of events, presentations, speakers and artists, united of all walks of life as we took a stand together as arts advocates in the spirit of advancing arts, culture & creativity in California. It is with great thanks to each of you who attended that day and those supporting from afar for contributing to the community that is dedicated to that which changes lives, the arts. With great enthusiasm among all and an incredible turn out for our first year, we want you to know that through your participation and engagement, we are inspired and energized to continue the work to build public awareness of the value and importance of the arts in California.

So, with that we are eager to support you in ways to continue engaging as well as receive your feedback through a survey so we can better learn about your experience as we plan for next year and as well as activities throughout the year! But before that, let’s take a look at all that contributed to Arts Advocacy Day being a ‘total success’, as we were told by many throughout the day!

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In the morning we celebrated April as Arts, Culture & Creativity Month, shared stories and data to show the impact arts have in California (these impact stories are being shared on social media and will be collected and developed into an ongoing blog) and it is beyond inspiring and staggering how impactful the arts truly are! From homelessness to corrections and recidivism rates, to healing and mental health, to confidence and social peer support, housing and public safety, arts changes lives- and gives a voice and a place of belonging to so many from students, artists, musicians, elected officials, parents, and community members alike.

Our line up was full of these moving stories from speakers such as Miss Central California Dana Harrison on the value of her arts education to give her confidence and a voice, Safiya Neal of Sacramento on arts housing transforming her life, and Jennifer ‘JayBee’ Beasley, Founder of Compton Open Mic on arts creating a positive identity and safe space for her community. Students from San Diego Youth Symphony and San Diego Opera, Nevada Union High School theatre students, Colin Regan from George Washington Carver High School and many more highlighted the transformative power of the arts in the face of adversity and otherwise.

Speakers such as Steven Dilley of Veterans Arts Project, Erin Dorn of the Crocker Art Museum, Naj Wikoff of Creative Healing Connections, Alma Robinson and Jody Prunier of California Lawyers for the Arts and Yvonne Soto, CEO of Developmental 

Disabilities Service Organization introduced Jenny an artist in their program also shared the life changing and healing power of arts in veterans, education, health, aging, wellness, corrections and programs for people with disabilities.

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Artist Stan Padilla opened the event with a land recognition followed by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg presenting a proclamation for April as Arts, Culture & Creativity Month. Over a dozen elected officials stopped by during a very busy legislative day to share why arts matter to them. Rousing and inspiring speeches about the transformative and transactional power of arts, culture and the creative economy were shared by Senator Ben Allen, Senator Robert Hertzberg and Senator Anthony Portantino, Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon, Assemblymember’s Kansen Chu, Ian Calderon, Sharon Quirk Silva, Tasha Boerner Horvath, Luz Rivas, Mike Gipson, Connie Petrie-Norris and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. Anne Bown Crawford Executive Director of the California Arts Council illustrated the value of the over $20 million in grants they distribute throughout the state and how additional support allows the arts to be accessible for every Californian. The day concluded with a enthusiastic speech from Arts Data Guy Randy Cohen, Americans for the Arts Vice President of Policy and Research.

The 3 hour morning presentation on the South Side of the Capitol featured different presenters every 5 minutes and highlighted all the arts disciplines including 2 poets laureate; Mighty Mike Mcgee of Santa Clara and Molly Fisk of Nevada County, Brazilian music and dancing from Mestre Caboclinho, Amazing Grace on the Native American flute performed by Linda Michelle Hardy, monologues from Nevada Union high school thespians and a peace song in Sanskrit performed by Harini Krishnan Vikas. The Crocker Art Museum and Sol Collective were on hand with art making and snacks were provided by Sacramento Co-Op and Milk Money and Artist Kirti Bassendine displayed photographs from her moving Homeless Voices project.

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In the afternoon, delegations trekked through the Capitol halls sporting their bipARTisan buttons and speaking to Senators, Assemblymembers and staffers. Some of them were doing this for their first time, and walked away with encouraging encounters. We wrapped up the day with a wonderful reception at the Sheraton where we featured our Legislative Arts Star award, granted this year to Senator Scott Wilk and Assemblymember Richard Bloom. We thank them for their leadership in supporting and advancing the arts!

It is because of your voice and your advocacy that we’ve begun to gather this army of “Arts Advocates” across the miles of California for the undeniable reason that each person deserves access to the arts.

Thank you for joining us at Arts Advocacy Day. We invite you to stay engaged because this is just the beginning! California is THE State of the Arts!

Photos by Alan Sheckter Photography, Mark Freeman and Arts Advocates.

For more great photos go to Californians for the Arts “Arts Advocacy Day” page

Head over to Californians for the Arts NEWS BLOG for more on Arts, Culture & Creativity Month progress and other important breaking news!