California Arts Council interviews E.D. Julie Baker on our state’s new springtime celebration

April is Arts, Culture and Creativity Month!

The month of April is officially Arts, Culture and Creativity Month in the state of California. Arts, Culture and Creativity Month, or ACCM, is a month dedicated to connection, advocacy and mobilized efforts to advance the arts across the state. The campaign, led by Californians for the Arts, features multiple opportunities to participate through trainings, storytelling, events, public action and more, culminating in a big event on April 23 at the state Capitol in Sacramento for Arts Advocacy Day.

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Californians for the Arts Executive Director Julie Baker at the California state Capitol with ACCM Project Manager Whitney Kear.

We (California Arts Council) recently sat down with Julie Baker, Executive Director of Californians for the Arts, to get some background on the motivation for the monthlong celebration and the hope for what lies ahead.

In a few sentences, tell us about Californians for the Arts and your vision as its new Executive Director.

Californians for the Arts (CFTA) is California’s statewide arts advocacy organization. Our mission is to increase public awareness of the importance of the arts. We plan to do this by ensuring that the arts are an ongoing part of the public dialogue, and to encourage Californians to care about the arts as a critical component of their own lives, and the lives of their communities. We want arts to be accessible for every Californian. We advocate for increased public funding for arts and arts education while tracking and working on legislation that benefits artists and the creative industries.

As the first Executive Director for CFTA, my vision is for arts, culture and creativity in California to be valued, funded and recognized for its social and economic impact on our lives, our communities and our state. I want to see California heralded nationwide as the leading state of creativity with funding to match. I want to empower and encourage arts supporters to become arts advocates and to build our political “Artmy” so that arts are seen by all forms of government, both state and local, as necessary and integral to a sustainable, vibrant and healthy California.

What are the key goals of Arts, Culture and Creativity Month (ACCM)?

ACCM was created to celebrate, inspire and recognize the impact the arts, culture and creative sectors have in California. The goal is to train people across the state to be advocates for the arts in their local communities and at the state level. In addition, we showcase Arts Impact Stories and illustrate the arts as a unique driver for social change and share data to impress that the arts and creative sectors are indeed leaders in our state’s economy. It is also about empowering arts leaders and organizations across the state to organize around a singular vision and messaging campaign. As a united voice, we are much more impactful.

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You’ve been traveling the state holding local community meetings. What have you been learning from your time on the road?

My greatest takeaway has been that everyone we meet and speak with understands the need for a staffed and professional arts advocacy organization in California. Until October of this year, CFTA had been quietly working behind the scenes on a solely volunteer level, which is not sustainable to meet the need of this diverse and large state. We are pleased with the progress our efforts have achieved to increase arts funding in our state, but there is plenty of work left to be done. There is legislation to be tracked, managed and introduced that impacts our field. There is also support needed to advocate for funding and support for rural, smaller populations and communities of color as well as continued training to build our next generation of arts leaders. We want to be the voice and go-to resource for the arts and creative sectors in California. We are eager to build our capacity to support the needs of this state.

Tell us about the recently proposed ACCM resolution from the state Legislature.

SCR 33 is a Senate concurrent resolution introduced by Senator Ben Allen and co-authored by Assemblymember Kansen Chu to designate April as Arts, Culture & Creativity Month. The resolution legitimizes and recognizes the value of the arts in California. We are thrilled to have our first measure introduced, and we hope it will receive bipartisan support!

Click here for more information on Californians for the Arts and how you, your organization, or your community can participate in Arts, Culture & Creativity Month.

March News

Arts Advocates gather in Speaker Pelosi's office during the National Arts Action Summit in Washington D.C.

Arts Advocates gather in Speaker Pelosi’s office during the National Arts Action Summit in Washington D.C.

March 2019

Dear Friends,

When was the last time you met with your representative and shared why you think the arts matter? Last week we participated in the National Arts Action Summit in Washington D.C. presented by Americans for the Arts. Brad Erickson, CFTA treasurer and Director of Theatre Bay Area and Executive Director Julie Baker led a delegation of ten eager advocates to eighteen meetings on Capitol Hill including a meeting in Speaker Pelosi’s office. We asked Congress to support an FY 2020 budget of $167.5 million (an increase of $12.5 million each) for both the NEA and NEH.

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In addition, we asked our members of Congress to fully fund at $38.6 million the Office of Museum Services, support an appropriation of $40 million to fund the Assistance for Arts Education program and fully fund the Every Student Succeeds Act’s Well-Rounded Education Program and federal after-school programs.We also introduced members to the CREATEact, intended to recognize artists, entrepreneurs and non-profit arts organizations as contributors to the small business community. We called attention to supporting the creative economy through federal programs and actions, a need for a universal charitable deductions, protecting net neutrality and supporting public broadcasting. We were encouraged by the reception we received on the Hill and celebrated that arts are a bipARTisan issue.
Not a claim most issues can make, especially now! There were many special moments over the two day summit but our highlights include a flawless lecture/performance by Rita Moreno, introduced by her friend Justice Sonia Sotomayer, visiting the Speaker’s office and meeting her brilliant legislative aides, gathering Arts Impact Stories from Congresswoman Jackie Speier and from Kendrick Davis, a legislative fellow in Senator Harris’ office. Davis recounted his childhood growing up in a low income neighborhood outside of Pittsburgh where he told us about his love for playing the trumpet in high school band. He reminded us why we must continue to fight for arts funding in schools and the public sector when he shared “No one could take the music away from me and the pathway it opened up for me for my future.” He concluded that his principal delivered the trumpet he still plays now to him before he left for college because she knew he could not afford one himself. This is the impact the arts make in our lives.

What do we need to do to make our case so legislators will listen?

Let’s start with the data. Nationally the arts are a $764 Billion dollar industry representing a 4.2% GDP share of the economy ahead of agriculture and transportation. In California, the U.S. Bureau of Analytics reports the arts & creative sectors contribute

1903-arts-ad_advocacyday_2019.jpg$176.4 billion and represent 7.1% share of GDP ahead of construction and education services. We know arts in communities, corrections, education, hospitals, transportation, housing, mental health and more makes a measurable and valuable impact on our economy and in our lives.

Want more specifics? Contact us and we can help provide data for your district and more.

How do we make the data “sing”?

We need to tell our stories and share the emotional and transformative impact the arts make in order to effectively advocate for increased public funding for the arts. Got a compelling video or narrative about your public arts program?

Share your “Arts Impact Story” and answer:

How has having access to public funding helped an arts program, artist or organization make a difference in your community?

How can the arts create a meaningful outcome on some of our state’s most pressing issues?

Your submission will help us bring public awareness of the importance of the arts; to ensure that the arts are an ongoing part of the public dialogue.

Watch Congressworman Jackie Speier and Kendrick Davis, Legislative Fellow, office of Senator Kamala Harris share their Arts Impact Stories below.


Join us in April as we launch the first annual Arts, Culture & Creativity Month.

ACCM Transparent Transparent Final low resOver 200 people are already registered to participate statewide and you should too! Let’s show our legislatures our political might and ensure the budget passes with the $10 million in increased permanent funding for the state arts agency. Don’t know what it means to be an arts advocate? Sign up for our FREE trainings across the state and webinar. Soon the training materials will be available in Spanish too.

Not sure how to participate? Check out our Ways to Engage guide.

Don’t have the time to participate but want to support the efforts to make our case to legislators about the value and impact of the arts? Donate or become a sponsor of ACCM today.

What are we advocating for?

  • Support Governor’s Newsom permanent funding increase of $10 million in the 2019 budget.
  • Recommend continued increased and permanent funding for the arts.

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    Your California Delegation at National Arts Advocacy Day

  • Value arts and culture as creative solutions to pressing societal issues.
  • Ensure all students have access to arts education and the ed code is enforced.
  • Support programs that provide for well rounded early childhood resources and to include arts & creativity.
  • Show our support for the Youth Poet Laureate pending legislation.
  • Build upon existing legislation for California’s Cultural Districts Program.
  • Budget request for the California Cultural and Historical Endowment’s Museum Grant Program.



Thank you for your passion and participation,

Julie Baker
Executive Director, CAA/CFTA
Victoria L. Hamilton
President of CAA/CFTA

February News

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Brought to you by Californians for the Arts and California Arts Advocates. Click image above for more info.

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Dear Friends,

What an exciting time to be an arts advocate in California! Over the last 2 months we’ve been touring the state and meeting with arts leaders to discuss what the state of arts advocacy is in California. We can tell you it is strong and we are feeling so optimistic and energized to lead the statewide movement. It was only 5 years ago that funding was at historic lows, hovering around $1 million for 10 years. In the last 5 years we’ve seen over 800% growth in the state budget for the arts and although this is a tremendous increase we are still not where we need to be to see arts accessible for every Californian.

With our new Governor showing early support for public funding for the arts, it’s our job to continue to press our representatives to increase permanent funding and to value arts, culture and creativity as transformational, impactful and just as worthy as any other social service providing solutions to our communities.

Just recently, Executive Director Julie Baker ran into Governor Newsom on a Southwest flight from LA to Sacramento. She had the opportunity to introduce herself and thank him for the $10 million in permanent funding for the California Arts Council he has allocated in his first budget. Gov. Newsom smiled and said, “But we still need to do more.” Stunned and smiling in agreement, he continued to encourage Ms. Baker, “Keep lobbying me, it works.”

At that point, she had to thank the Governor for validating her job, but in all seriousness, Gov. Newsom has opened the door and invited us to come in and build our case. So now it is up to all of us to show up, to advocate, to go from arts supporters to arts activists and build California as the leading state of creativity. In listening to his State of the State address there was no mention of the creativity economy so we need to make sure our voices are heard.

How can you help? Register today for Arts, Culture and Creativity Advocacy Day in Sacramento on April 23 where we will connect, educate and mobilize our efforts. Can’t make it to the Capitol that day? Join us throughout the month of April by partnering with ACCM, or host an event in your own community and download our “Ways to Engage”guide.

We want to hear your ARTS IMPACT STORY. How has access to public funding helped an arts program, artist or organization to make a difference in your community? How can the arts create a meaningful outcome on some of our state’s most pressing issues?


  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Health / Well being
  • Homelessness
  • Mental Health
  • Neighborhood Revitalization
  • Public Art
  • Student retention / graduation rates
  • Veterans
  • Feel free to send in more ideas!
  • Affordable Housing
  • Aging
  • Arts & Accessibility
  • Climate crisis
  • Corrections and re-entry programs
  • Cultural Districts
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Early Childhood / Arts Education
  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Submit your narrative, a link to an article or blog post, a work of art or a video illustrating your arts impact and help us build our case. We will share these on social media and in our public awareness campaign throughout the month of April. We look forward to showcasing stand out examples as we take to Sacramento, our state’s capital, on April 23rd for Arts, Culture and Creative Advocacy Day.

We’ve always been told when you need to solve a problem, think outside the box and come up with a creative solution. Artists and cultural workers have always done just that. Now is our time to have a seat at the table and to be recognized for our contributions. As Shirley Chisholm said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

Julie Baker, CFTA ED Gets Around! 


Leading this effort also takes a professional staff, a rockstar board and lobbyist and the organizational capacity to implement our programs. Please join our organization today as an individual, an organization, a sponsor or a funder. An investment in advocacy brings results that benefit all of our supporters.

We want to hear from you and we want to visit with you as we continue our tour of this great and diverse state so we can truly be the voice for our members. Contact Julie at and together we will advance Arts, Culture and Creativity in California.

Thank you for your passion and participation,


Julie Baker
Executive Director, CAA/CFTA

Victoria L. Hamilton
President of CAA/CFTA

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Originating with the adoption of Assembly Bill 189 in 2015, authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, the California Cultural Districts program aims to leverage the state’s artistic and cultural assets.

In July of 2017, 14 pilot districts were designated. Led by Peter Comiskey of the Balboa Park Cultural District, the focus of the Coalition is to unify California’s Cultural Districts to advance advocacy and collaboration in arts and culture.



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Creative California

Create CA is a coalition of dedicated and innovative leaders who understand that together we have the power to create lasting change for every California student.

Their mission is to ensure ALL students are able to reach their full potential by advancing an education model that promotes creativity and the arts for the workforce of tomorrow. Check out their public will campaign for Arts Ed!




San Jose Jazz Exeuctive Director Brendan Rawson.

Did you know authoring an Op-Ed in your local paper is a great way to demonstrate the arts impact in your community?

San Jose Jazz Exeuctive Director Brendan Rawson.CFTA member and San Jose Jazz Executive Director Brendan Rawson has written several including recently in the SJ Mercury News and a piece in the Sacbee from 12/31 about California taking the lead in many areas including Cultural Diplomacy. We love this idea!

“Develop a strategy of cultural diplomacy, to include: a cultural ambassadors program sending exceptional California artists such as former U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, musician Herbie Hancock (already a U.N. cultural ambassador), or California immigrant Gustavo Dudamel to important international gatherings; a cultural exchange program that sends California artists abroad and brings foreign artists here, particularly those from countries that the president has denigrated; and a program to assist California sites in securing Membership in UNESCO World Heritage status. Potential sites could include Manzanar, Angel Island and Monterey Bay.”
– SJ Jazz E.D. Brendan Rawson  OP-ED WRITING TIPS


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Started in 2007, the report is an invaluable tool to assess the tremendous economic impact and influence of the area’s creative sector on the economy.

“Against the backdrop of these innovations stands the underlying truth that this report helps illuminate: Los Angeles and California are home to rich and vibrant creative communities with robust and growing economies that deserve to be taken seriously in their own right. It is critical that leaders from public, private, and non-profit sectors work together to support this type of examination in order for the larger creative economy to continue to flourish and thrive.” said Bruce W. Ferguson, President of Otis College, in his written welcome to the Otis Report.  READ THE REPORT


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  • Thank Governor Newsom for proposing $10 million in permanent funding for the California Arts Council. Tag him in your social media posts, send a letter, let the administration know you care and want to see funding for the arts continue to increase.
  • Write letters to newly elected or re-elected officials, offering congratulations, thanking them for past help, urging support for state funding for the arts. Include your organization’s brochure.
  • Read CFTA’s monthly emails and and respond to calls-to-action.
  • Download our “Ways to Engage” pdf and recruit friends and family to attend Arts, Culture and Creativity actions with you!
  • Send us your Arts Impact Story.

  • Learn about your representatives: what district are you in; where is the nearest local office; what are the relevant phone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses?

Helpful Contacts

Find out who represents you here:

California State Capitol Switchboard
(916) 322-9900 |

U.S. House of Representatives Switchboard
(202) 225-3121 |

California State Capitol Switchboard
(916) 322-9900 |


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  • Do you believe arts being accessible for every Californian is imperative?
  • Do you feel California should be the leading creative state?
  • Do you think arts and artists can play a vital role in solving some of California’s greatest challenges?
  • Do you want to see funding to match these goals?

Then it is time to support Californians for the Arts, your statewide arts advocacy organization.

As we gear up to actively work with a new administration to publicly fund the arts at historic levels and build our delegate programs with trainings across the state, your support for our organization is needed now more than ever. Please join online today!


EVENT: 2019 Otis Report on the Creative Economy

February 1, 2019 10am – 1pm
Los Angeles, CA



This year marks the eleventh annual Otis Report on the Creative Economy, an invaluable tool commissioned by Otis College of Art and Design and authored in 2019 by Beacon Economics. The program will include a presentation of findings by Beacon’s Executive Director of Research Robert Kleinhenz, Ph.D., who authored several prior editions in his previous role as chief economist of the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

The keynote speaker is Bettina Korek, executive director of Frieze Los Angeles and founder of ForYourArt.

The event will also be live-streamed on Otis College’s Facebook page.

The report will be available for download online at on February 1, 2019 at 10am. Follow updates on social media using #OtisReport.

Please RSVP above.
or Livestream HERE


Date and Location: 
February 1, 2019 10am – 1pm
Mark Taper Auditorium
Richard J. Riordan Central Library
650 W. 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071

9:30 a.m. Check-In
10:00 a.m. Program Start
11:30 a.m. Networking Reception

524 South Flower Street Garage, Parking Info.


Funding for the 2019 Otis Report on the Creative Economy has been provided by the California Arts Council; Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Second District; Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; Endeavour; City National Bank; and Moss Adams. Media partners include Californians for the Arts, Arts for L.A., and Arts Orange County.

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January News – Stand Up for the Arts


Dear Arts Advocates,
Welcome to 2019! Good news coming already from Sacramento with the release of Governor Newsom’s first budget but our work here is still not done. Although the proposed funding increases the permanent allocation by $10 million, it effectively replaces the $8.8 million one time put into the May revise by Governor Brown. We are grateful for Governor Newsom’s pro active call to increase funding but overall we are still spending less than $1.00 per person on the arts in California.
Join us in our movement to advance arts, culture and creativity today. Now is the time to move from being an arts supporter to being an arts activist!
Julie Baker Sig
Julie Baker
Executive Director, CAA/CFTA
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Victoria L. Hamilton
President of CAA/CFTA

news from the field


California Arts Council welcomes newest council member Jodie Evans who was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown on January 3, 2019. Evans has been a peace, environmental, women’s rights and social justice activist for over forty-five years. She is the co-founder of CODEPINK that works to stop US Military interventions overseas, promotes diplomatic solutions and Peace. She served in the administration of Governor Jerry Brown and ran his presidential campaigns. Esteemed Council member Louise McGuinness was also reappointed by Brown to serve an additional four-year term.

Phoebe Beasley, Christopher Coppola, Steven Oliver, and Rosalind Wyman completed their appointed terms on January 1.

Who do you want to see on the California Arts Council?
Perhaps some rural representation?
Let your voice be heard or apply here!


The search continues for arts and culture field experts to serve as part of a California Arts Council peer-review panel for the 2018-19 grant season. For the first time this year, panelists will receive an honorarium for their service in Sacramento. Young professionals and experienced cultural workers, artists, and arts policy makers are encouraged to apply by January 15. Complete details can be found HERE.


From Grantmakers in the Arts: CREATIVE PLACEMAKING:

Rethinking Neighborhood Change and Tracking Progress 

creative placemakingA white paper released by Kresge Foundation explores creative placemaking initiatives and the assessment of community development strategies. The latest white paper on creative placemaking, penned by Maria Rosario Jackson, PH.D, makes the case on how the field could benefit from a more nuanced understanding of the roots of urban inequality, and improved ways of tracking change in communities.      READ MORE


Government Shutdown and the Arts

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A sign posted outside the National Zoo earlier this month declares its closure, along with the closure of all Smithsonian museums. They were all on the wish list for Jill Rorem, whose family plans were undone by the shutdown. But she’s not alone: The shutdown’s ramifications on the arts have been felt far beyond the Beltway. Carolyn Kaster/AP

As Shutdown Crawls On, Artists And Nonprofits Fear For Their ‘Fragile Industry’

“It’s a fragile industry. It’s not a rich, money-making thing,” Robert Lynch, head of Americans for the Arts, says of the landscape of arts workers and organizations. “So any little crack — whether it is the elimination of money from the National Endowment for the Arts or the slowing of it down, like a shutdown does — it potentially affects people and their planning and their ability to attract other funders, all of that kind of thing.
It’s a ripple effect.”  *Source- NPR  READ MORE


Artist proposes solution to Bay Area housing crisis

Berkeley artist and activist Alfred Twu has come up with a novel idea that would not only recycle old BART cars, it would add options to the tight Bay Area housing market. READ MORE

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  • Thank Governor Newsom for proposing $10 million in permanent funding for the California Arts Council. Tag him in your social media posts, send a letter, let the administration know you care and want to see funding for the arts continue to increase.
  • Volunteer to help CFTA with the current session and Arts, Culture and Creativity Day and month of activities.
  • The California State Legislature and United States Congress convene.
    Learn about your representatives:
    What district are you in?
    • Where is the nearest local office
    • What are the relevant phone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses? 

    Helpful Contacts
    Find out who represents you here:

    California State Capitol Switchboard
    (916) 322-9900 |
    U.S. House of Representatives Switchboard
    (202) 225-3121 |

    California State Capitol Switchboard
    (916) 322-9900 |


T_Legislative_Gray+Lt+Blue2Besides working to increase permanent funding for the arts, here is some of the proposed legislation that may have implications for our field:

AB 5 Worker status: independent Contractors
California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) has introduced legislation intended to strengthen employee rights and define the role of an independent contractor.
The bill (A.B. 5), would add to state law the “ABC test” regarding independent contractors. The test was adopted unanimously by California’s Supreme Court in the case of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903 (Dynamex) in an April decision.

The court ruled in favor of workers when Dynamex, a package and documents delivery company, converted all of its drivers to independent contractors to save money.

In its decision, the court sided with the drivers and established the three part “A-B-C” test, which requires workers to be classified as independent contractors if:

A) The worker is “free from control and direction” of the employer as it relates to performance of the work.
B) The work is performed “outside the usual course” of the hiring entity’s business.
C) The worker engages in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.

It’s time to review who you have classified as an independent contractor vs an employee based against the above criteria. If you think this could have a significant impact for your organization, please let us know. 

If you have questions or concerns, an excellent resource is California Lawyers for the Arts.


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  • Do you believe arts being accessible for every Californian is imperative?
  • Do you feel California should be the leading creative state?
  • Do you think arts and artists can play a vital role in solving some of California’s greatest challenges?
  • Do you want to see funding to match these goals?

Then it is time to support Californians for the Arts,
your statewide arts advocacy organization.

As we gear up to actively work with a new administration to publicly fund the arts at historic levels and build our delegate programs with trainings across the state, your support for our organization is needed now more than ever. Please join online today!


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Registration Deadline: Feb 11 at 3pm

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$35, free to GIA Members.
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Screen Shot 2019-01-15 at 6.21.26 PM.pngRegister online to participate or download the pdf.


Follow us on Facebook for up to the minute breaking news and some humor to lighten your day!


Governor Newsom releases his first budget which includes a $10 million permanent increase in funding for the arts

For Immediate Release January 10, 2019


California Sate Capitol Building, Sacramento

Californians for the Arts (CFTA), the statewide arts advocacy organization, is pleased to announce that Governor Newsom’s proposed 2019-20 budget includes an increase in state funding for the arts from $16 million in permanent funding from the general fund budget to $26,083,000. “We are thrilled Governor Newsom has taken the proactive step to increase permanent funding for the arts in California. California is the 5th largest economy in the world with the creative economy totaling $407.1 billion in 2017*, but our state funding for the arts and arts education has fallen short in allowing for equitable access to the arts. Governor Brown in his final May revise of the budget had given a one time increase of $8.8 million. Governor Newsom’s $10 million proposal for permanent funding represents an overall funding increase of $1.2 million but as it is permanent it allows the State Arts Agency to be more stable with ongoing grants and programs. We are grateful to Governor Newsom for his vision and support of the impact the arts sector makes in California,” says CFTA Executive Director Julie Baker.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom presents his first state budget during a news conference, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The arts are not only an impressive and important agent for economic development, the arts impact social issues including mental health, corrections, housing, veterans, transportation and education. Studies show that students with an arts rich education have better grade point average, score better on standardized tests in reading and math and have lower dropout rates. Especially in a state as diverse as California, the arts serve to give voice to our many communities, spark individual creativity, foster empathy and understanding, spur civic engagement and serve as a continual source of personal enrichment, inspiration and growth.

After years of advocacy, CFTA’s efforts have succeeded in increasing appropriations exponentially, from the $1 million allocated in 2004 to nearly $25 million for fiscal 2018. If the budget passes with this proposed increase, more grant programs would be available to offer support to public access to the arts, arts in schools and the state’s cultural infrastructure. California is ranked 26th in the nation for arts funding, on a per capita basis. With this increase California still falls behind other leading creative states such as New York which ranks 6th at $2.05 in spending per capita and Massachusetts with $2.33. “As arts advocates, this is exciting news coming out of Sacramento,” says Baker, “but our work is not done. We will still advocate for increased permanent funding for the arts so we are on par with other leading creative states as we know the arts and creative sector are invaluable to an enlightened, vital and functioning society. The creative sector has a lot to offer and should be recognized for its impact and worth. We look forward to working with the new administration to amplify California’s profile as the leading state of creativity and to illustrate how the creative sector is transformative, solution oriented and effective.”

In April, Californians for the Arts will launch Arts, Culture and Creativity Month, a series of actions throughout the state to illustrate the impact of the arts in California.

* Source, Otis Report on the Creative Economy

December Newsletter

Left to Right Julie Baker, CFTA Executive Director, Assemblymember Kansen Chu, Ron Muriera, CFTA Vice-President, Victoria Hamilton, President.

Good morning from Sacramento where we are attending the California Arts Council convening of State Local Partners and Statewide Regional Networks.

On Friday, we attended the California Arts Council meeting for public comments in the morning and then had a lively and engaging meeting with arts thought leaders discussing the landscape for arts advocacy in California, the opportunities we have with a new administration to re-state our case for the impact the creative sector has on California and the need to scale our organization to meet this opportunity. We were delighted that Assemblymember Kansen Chu, a legislative leader for the arts and the Chair of the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, & Internet Media Committee and Co-Chair – California Joint Committee on the Arts was able to join us as well.

Assemblymember Kansen Chu at a CFTA meeting in San Jose.

Californians for the Arts (CFTA) and California Arts Advocates (CAA) are your state arts advocacy organizations. CFTA is our non-profit organization and a statewide regional network under the California Arts Council. CFTA will be leading trainings across the state as we build towards Arts, Culture and Creativity Month in April. CAA is our 501 (c) 4 organization and our primary activity is to lobby the Legislature to increase permanent funding for the Arts and to protect and support legislation that is friendly towards the creative sector.



Today we are excited to launch our new website for Californians for the Arts. Stay tuned as we continue to add content including an Advocacy toolkit.

We are also pleased that you can now make your membership donations online at both websites. Please see our new membership program for CFTA here and join today. Together we can make California the leading state of Creativity and build a sustainable and vibrant state using creativity as the driver for social change and wellness.

California is celebrating a new and historic legislature with the largest group of Democrats sworn in, in modern California history. California is also learning how to live with the effects of climate change as we saw devastating fires rage through our State in late November.

PARADISE, CA – NOVEMBER 08: Homes burn on Neal Road in Paradise, Calif., as a wildfire destroys neighborhoods, Thursday, November 8, 2018. Photo by Karl Mondon.

In this newsletter, we interview Debra Lucero, CFTA/CAA Board Member, Arts Leader and incoming Butte County Supervisor on the role the Arts sector plays in disaster recovery. As arts advocates, we see the critical role artists and culture workers play in solving social issues. As California faces growing challenges for housing and affordability, homelessness, climate change, transportation, criminal justice, immigration, healthcare, education, gun safety, prison reform and more, what role can and should the arts sector play in working towards building a better California? We want to hear your stories of success and your ideas for creative results based actions. Share your stories on our Facebook page or email them to

We hope the holidays bring everyone a chance to rest and spend time with loved ones. We know the work we all do in the creative sector is inspiring but it is also hard work. We celebrate you and your accomplishments and we thank you for your support.

Julie Baker
Executive Director, CAA/CFTA

Victoria L. Hamilton
President of CAA/CFTA



California Lawmakers swear in for new 2 year session. Image Courtesy of the Herald Dispatch.

California’s Legislative Session began on Monday, December 3rd. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was chosen to lead for another term by his colleagues and Senators again chose Democrat Toni Atkins of San Diego as the president pro tempore. There are 80 assemblymembers and 40 senators. 17 lawmakers are taking their seats for the first time, nine in the Senate and eight in the Assembly.

Democrats hold 60 Assembly seats and 29 Senate seats. Rendon highlighted the Assembly’s diverse group of representatives, which includes 23 women. In the Senate, Democratic Sen. Melissa Hurtado is the state’s youngest female senator ever at age 30. Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio and Sen. Susan Rubio are the first sisters to serve together in the Legislature.

According to the Los Angeles Times, it’s the largest group of Democrats sworn in in modern California history. Based on reporting from the Associated Press.


  • Update your data base with the names of newly elected officials.
  • Volunteer to help CFTA to prepare for the legislative session and Arts, Culture and Creativity actions and day at the Capitol on April 24.
  • Add your legislators to your holiday card list and let them know how important the arts, culture and creativity are to a healthy and vibrant California.
  • Fill out this easy California Priorities Survey and let Governor Newsom know directly how important the arts are to California.

Not sure who your representative is? CLICK HERE


Join CFTA or CAA or give a year end gift appeal.

  • Do you believe arts being accessible for every Californian is imperative?
  • Do you feel California should be the leading creative state?
  • Do you think arts and artists can play a vital role in solving some of California’s greatest challenges?
  • Do you want to see funding to match these goals?

Then it is time to support Californians for the Arts,
your statewide arts advocacy organization.

As we gear up to actively work with a new administration to publicly fund the arts at historic levels and build our delegate programs with trainings across the state, your support for our organization is needed now more than ever. Please join online today!


Click HERE for your full guide to upcoming events.


Starting in 2019, April will officially be Arts, Culture, & Creativity Month in the state of CA!

Throughout the year, Californians for the Arts conducts advocacy trainings across the state, and briefings for elected officials.
April 24, 2019
Arts, Culture and Creativity Advocacy DaySacramento, CA
Register online to participate or download the pdf.

Debra Cucero, CAA / CFTA Board Member, Executive Director of Shasta Country Arts Council, Redding, and Supervisor of Butte County District 2.

Q: Over the last 2 years you’ve seen the devastation of wildfires in your county with most recently the CampFire in the town of Paradise. As an incoming Supervisor and Arts Leader, what role do you feel arts play in disaster relief?

DL: The most recent Camp Fire has been the most destructive in California state history. The magnitude of this is something we’re all trying to get our heads around. We’re grappling with the fact an entire town of 27,000 people is literally gone and other nearby places like Concow, Magalia, and Butte Creek Canyon nearly destroyed. In fact, the fire killed 88 people and another 25 are missing. It destroyed nearly 14,000 single-family residences, nearly 300 multi-residence dwellings, 528 commercial buildings and over 4,000 other minor structures. An estimated 564 more were damaged. Eight of nine schools were damaged or destroyed. The easier way to understand what happened in Paradise is how many buildings were left standing: 1,786 structures survived.

But beyond this destruction is the mental anguish experienced by first responders, nurses, doctors, teachers and everyday citizens who fled The Ridge amidst towering flames, a sky as black as midnight and who, unfortunately, witnessed burned out vehicles and mayhem – scenes of war against our normally tranquil and beautiful environment. Many nearly died themselves.

This is where the healing properties of creating art can begin. Whether it is through music or painting or storytelling or sculpting or stringing beads. Art therapy is rooted in the idea that creative expression can foster healing and mental well-being. It helps tell difficult stories of survival. It helps us sort through the complex emotions of trauma and most importantly, it helps us heal.

A photograph by Debra Lucero of Honey Run Covered Bridge after the fire damaged the bridge, taken Sunday, November 10th.

Q: Are there examples of how artists have helped in disaster recovery in your community?

DL: In Redding, where the Carr Fire ravaged that community this summer, Art from the Ashes immediately sprung up and began to “rescue” items from burned out homes, farms, and businesses. These are being housed in a facility that will be open to artists from all over the Western U.S. to create art from these strangely beautiful remnants of peoples’ material lives. We are putting out a Call to Artists to assist in this process which will culminate in a gallery show and monies raised will go to those who lost their homes and businesses.

Additionally, the first thing I’ve noticed in these last two fires is the heart-felt desire to DO SOMETHING for those who lost nearly everything except their life. This desperate response comes from the artistic community who give of their talents to hold concerts and workshops and more to raise money for victims. One artist I know painted 100 canvases and a mere $10 a piece to raise $1,000 for local artists who lost their art supplies.

A painting of HA painting of Honey Run Covered Bridge in Butte Creek Canyon by local artist Janet Lombardi Blixt. Lombardi is raising funds by selling prints of the above painting. Funds go to support victims of the Camp Fire. You can purchase prints HERE.

Q: There is a concept being developed of Artists as Second Responders. Do you think this is an accurate depiction?

DL: I hadn’t heard of this exact phrase but I find it appropriate. Unfortunately, I think we are far away from Artists being seen as “Second Responders.” There is such focus (rightfully so) on the first responders who risk their lives saving all of us. But when the dust settles and the trauma begins to settle in; that’s when art therapists and artists and musicians come together to provide relief – the only kind they know how to bring – through the beauty of their talents. It may be a song or a poem or a beautiful image of what was – like an artist who had painted the Covered Bridge in Butte Creek Canyon (now completely destroyed) and is now using the painting to raise funds for victims.

Q: In your experience, what legislation or public funding is needed for artists and arts organizations who experience a disaster such as wildfire?

DL: Professional artists can seek relief through the Small Business Administration which offers low-interest loans. Businesses of any size and private, nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. These loans cover losses that are not fully covered by insurance or other recoveries.

However, I do think we need to begin a more collaborative, statewide approach to disasters and the effect on local artists and our artistic community. The fabric of our existence is already stretch so thin. Perhaps there could be a special disaster relief program through the California Arts Council to assist with general operating grants to help organizations adversely affected by disaster? CERF, which bills itself as THE ARTISTS SAFETY NET is one national organization that has been on the frontlines of disasters from earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. We need more safety nets for our artistic community.

Perhaps in California, it’s time to recognize the collective creative genius represented here. Perhaps it’s time to lobby our legislators about the hundreds of artists who have lost entire collections of work, studios and more. Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge the underlying creative nature of our state and begin to protect it – just like we protect our natural treasures.