June 29, 2023 – On June 27, 2023 Governor Gavin Newsom signed the $310 Billion dollar 23-24 budget with Senate Bill 101. While the headlines captured the challenge to balance a $30 billion dollar budget deficit to protect funding for social services and education and negotiations related to infrastructure and clean energy, the arts were largely overlooked in the discussion. California’s arts and culture production drives 7.7% of the state’s economy, producing over $261 billion in direct impact and supporting 742,421 jobs. Yet, with only $26 million in local assistance grants for close to 40 million people, CA is 24th in the nation in per capita spending, falling behind states such as Florida (9th), Tennessee(15th) and Alabama (18th).

Why the arts matter in CA

California’s arts and culture advocates gathered in April for Arts Advocacy Day, produced by California Arts Advocates (CAA), to urge the Legislature and Administration to continue to invest in Art & Culture and to protect funding for programs such as California’s Cultural Districts Program and the CA Museum Grant Program. Unfortunately the signed budget claws back close to $50 million in funding for these programs, prompting possible destabilization for museums and cultural hubs across the state. In addition, advocates shared the need to invest in grants for small budget nonprofit performing arts. A new independent study conducted by CVL Economics shows that California has lost more than 150,000 live performing arts jobs since the pandemic, and the state is in danger of losing billions of dollars in tax revenue from a depressed live arts sector without further action. 

Arts & Culture remain an under-invested and under-utilized industry. SB-1116, the Performing Arts Equitable Payroll Fund authored by Senator Anthony Portantino was signed by the Governor in 2022. But with the signing of the 23-24 budget, this law along with other key legislation signed in 2021, including the CA Creative Workforce Act (SB-628, Senator Ben Allen), key programs remain unfunded. “We are disappointed the Legislature did not recognize the critical importance of investing in grant programs for performing arts and creative workforce as it impacts every local community in every district,” says Victoria Hamilton, President of the Board of CAA. “According to the study, for every 100 performing arts jobs, an additional 156 were supported in other sectors through downstream impacts. Bottom line, without investment for performing arts, we are losing local jobs.”

One silver lining is the appropriation of $1 million towards a California Creative Economy Workgroup to develop a strategic plan for the California creative economy. “While the state was proposing clawing back funds to vital arts programs and not yet investing in new programs to build and sustain the creative workforce, we felt it was the right time to look at how the state can do an effective and equitable job of planning for the future of the creative workforce,” says Julie Baker, CEO of CAA who lobbied for this budget allocation. “We are grateful to the Legislature and the Newsom Administration for recognizing the importance of evaluating the impact of our industry to California and how we can make smart investments to ensure its stability and growth for the future.”

According to the budget bill implementation language, AB 127, (not yet signed by the Governor by the date of this release) the goal is to “Develop a strategic plan to improve the competitiveness of the California creative economy with respect to attracting creative economy business, retaining talent within the state, and developing marketable content that can be exported for national and international consumption and monetization. The strategic plan shall be structured to roll out in incremental phases to support the creative economy at large, including specific strategies to reach historically marginalized communities, and incorporate the diverse interests, strengths, and needs of Californians.”

CAA along with their partner organization Californians for the Arts is planning a series of convenings across the state in mid August to address the crisis and discuss solutions to sustain California’s nonprofit performing arts sector and its vital contributions to California’s economic and social health. “The arts, and live performing arts in particular, represent critical jobs for every local community in California but we cannot understate the essential nature of arts to bring meaning, empathy and social connections to a society that is becoming increasingly isolated, polarized and automated. Now is the time to invest in the creative industries for the future of work and for the future of humanity. Artists are vital contributors to our well being, we should be long past the age of taking that for granted and instead seeing them for what they are: essential workers for a healthy society,” says Julie Baker.

About Californians for the Arts (CFTA)

Californians for the Arts is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary advocacy service organization focused on building resources and public awareness of the value and impact of arts, culture and creativity across California.


About California Arts Advocates (CAA)

California Arts Advocates is a 501c4 that provides direct lobbying to ensure the arts are prioritized in the budget process and there is legislation to serve and protect the creative industries and arts workers.