I don't usually use this forum to air my political views, but sometimes, I feel an issue is important.
California spends approximately 3 cents per capita on support for the arts. This ranks California dead last among the states. The national average spending per capita is about $1.00. California's position is simply shameful, expecially considering that the State ranks among the largest economies in the world, with entertainment (arts) as its largest export.
The California Assembly Appropriations Committee is currently considering AB 1365, which will rectify the situation. The new law, if passed, would require that 20% of state sales and use tax revenues derived from the sales of two specific retail categories pertaining to arts, crafts and music be deposited in the State Treasury for allocation to the California Art Council.
It is estimated that the 4.75% rate of sales and use tax on works of art amounts to $166 million per year. AB 1365 would transfer 20% of this amount, or $32 million from the state's General Fund to the California Arts Council.
This is not a new tax; it is merely a designation for the spending of dollars the state is already collecting. It only applies to the state-level sales-tax. Counties' and Cities' portions of sales tax revenue would not be impacted.
Why I support AB 1365
- California is in its third year spending three cents per capita from the general fund on the arts. AB 1365 will provide badly needed funding for the California Arts Council and in turn, it can provide programs that serve all Californians, not just for some.
- California’s nonprofit arts sector alone provides $5.4 billion in economic activity annually, supporting more than 160,000 jobs and generating $300 million in local and state revenue. Increasing California's investment in the nonprofit arts sector will create more jobs and generate more tax revenue.
- The nonprofit arts community that the California Arts Council has nurtured over the years is a feeder to California's creative industry. According to the Americans for the Arts Creative Industries Report (using reliable data from Dun & Bradstreet and geo-economic analysis), California is home to 86,534 arts-related businesses that employed 426,222 people in January 2007. These are California businesses; these are California jobs.
- The arts attract new tourism dollars. Public support of cultural tourism plays a critical role in community revitalization as well as the surge in tourism, one of the fastest growing economic markets in the country today, with California leading the nation as the most visited state. Cultural travelers spend more money and stay longer at their destinations. These travelers spend an average of $38.05 per event in addition to the cost of admission – 75% percent more than their local counterparts – on event-related items such as meals, parking and retail sales. Local attendees spend $21.75 per person per event.
- Cities throughout California have revived and rebuilt their downtowns by restoring old theaters, opening new store-front galleries and concert halls, and offering festivals and art walks that bring the community together in the downtown setting. Attendance at arts events generates related commerce for local businesses such as restaurants, parking garages, hotels and retail stores. By creating cultural hubs, nonprofit arts businessess help cities define themselves, draw toruists and attract investment.
- Many arts organizations offer education and social service outreach programs to a variety of populations and agencies, such as: Youth at risk; homeless children; children with autism, diabetes and obesity; seniors; developmentally and physically disabled; Alzheimer’s and dementia patients; veterans with post traumatic stress disorder; hospitals and health care centers; parks and recreation centers; after school programs and underserved urban and rural communities.
- Since 1977 the California Arts Council (CAC) has celebrated excellence in the arts. It has encouraged widespread public participation by supporting professional artists who work in all areas of the state, helping to build strong arts organizations at the local level, assisting with the professional development of arts leaders, promoting awareness of the value of the arts and directly supporting arts programs for children. CAC programs include Artists in the Schools, Poetry Outloud, American Masterpieces, Creating Public Value Through the Arts, California Arts Day, the California Poet Laureate and My California: Journeys by Great Writers.
- The arts are vital to the quality of life that we are so very proud of in California. With the passage of AB 1365, the California Arts Council and its programs will make it possible to continue its significant contribution to California's economic recovery through tourism, jobs, social services, education and arts for all.
How you can help
Please consider supporting this important bill by faxing your letters of support to:
Assemblywoman Betty Karnette (the Bill's author) (916)319-2154
Speaker Fabian Nunez (913)19-2146
Your district's Assembly member.
You can also send your words of support electronically by visiting California Arts Advocates' online Action Center