Thursday, July 15, 2021

California Arts Council Funding Update: July 2021

 By Patricia Frischer

Julie Baker hosted this meeting for the California Arts Council CAC

First to speak was Jason Schmelzer, lobbyist who gave us an overview. Covid and the pandemic gave a strong focus for the need for an increased budget. People had to get out of their silos and come together to make an effective case for arts and culture. Finances at this time in CA are in good shape, because tech did well during Covid and CA has lots of tech. CAC was on a slow steady climb to raise its funding. But this normal path could be escalated due to COVID. They decided to aim big for a billion dollars and was aggressive. So far they have reached $600 million, none of which is yet available, as it was just singed on July 13, 2021. This is a very changing year for the arts and the crisis and push for funding is not over. This is not a one and done. There are still endless letters and contacting of officials for advocacy yet to be done and policies for application and follow up documentation have to be written and approved and put in place.  

Julie Baker pointed out there is still the challenge of changing from contract employees to part and full time employers and they are looking for centralized payroll system for those to more easily comply with new laws. 

Celeste deWald, CA Assoc. Of Museums   and Julie Fearing of Fearless Advocacy represents their 200 member institutions who are focusing now on recover resilience. Most of their funding is through the CA Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE )  In the past they funded capitol projects totaling $921 million. Now they are concentrating on the  under-represented  and under-served sectors with $50 million going to 180 funded in total but this is only one quarter of those submitting application.  They asked for $125 M for climate change to protect those institution. Climate resilience funding might come in other ways. Some museums have fixed seating and can get funds available for performing arts.

Casey Lowdermilk SF Venue Association was the self -tarter who helped bring together a branch of the National Independent Venue Assoc.  for California. CA NIVA There are 660 venues here and they estimate that $12 is generated for each $1 spent on a venue. They are looking for 45% of the budget for 2019 which was lost revenue in 2020. They got $250 million.  Each venue’s ask is capped at $250 thousand.  This does not include museums unless they have fixed seating, movie theaters or organizations that have 5 or more multi-state locations.

The Venue community really came together for the first time. Casey emphasized the need to have a seat at the table and how that needs to be ongoing. Clear communication and the need to continue to sponsor new bills like an ABC liquor license especially for arts venues. The hiring of lobbyist has been essential.

Alex Torres, Director of Government Strategies worked with Casey and reported on the importance of personal stories to join the economic impact. These stories are the ones that wins over officials so that have to be able to relate to them. He pointed out that they will use the federal application as a starting place. But they want to prevent fraudulent application while making them easier. Most venues need to get rid of debt and need help in re-hiring. He is hoping for a a swift roll out of the application process. Details of Venues Grant Program can be found in Section 16 of SB151

The following is a deeper dive into  where the $600 million dollars is going to go. 

Creative Youth Development (CYD)  funding is there not to school but through non-profits. (for example, Arts a Reason to Survive) who serve those up to age 24. You can find more details about Creative Youth Development at this website:

Julie Baker urged all to use your county funds as well as other government department like Clean CA $1.1 Billion through the department of Transportation by Jan 2023

To access data on who got an award through the CA Small Business C-19 Relief Grant Program, go to this website and click on the program tab. The numbers of awards to nonprofits are low, and CAC are fighting to increase them and improve the application process for nonprofits:

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