Keep Art Alive

A California state legislator writes of his fight to keep arts funding alive in California: “We are truly at a turning point in the relationship between government and the arts. I had one of the hardest fights of my life this year to prevent the legislature from eliminating the California Arts Council entirely. Not just defunding it, but eliminating it from the state. I have no idea how or why this proposal came about, but it was made and it very nearly happened — California almost became the first state in the nation to abolish all public funding of the arts. As it is, we will continue to fund the arts, but at a level that is the lowest in the nation. Lower than Mississippi. Lower than Alabama. Lower than North Dakota. The state’s General Fund, which last year gave the California Arts Council about $18 million, will now fund it at $1 million. We will thus be spending less than 3 cents per capita on the arts. For comparison, the national average is $1.00 per capita. The math on that is fairly easy — California spends about 3% of the national average on the arts.”