July 19, 2024


El Chicano, Colton Courier, Rialto Record

California Reverses 58% Budget Cuts to Arts: Advocacy Efforts Yield Significant Wins for IE Arts Sector

3 min read

A Colton artist painting in the San Bernardino Breezeway.

In a major turn of events, Governor Gavin Newsom has reversed a significant portion of the proposed budget cuts to the California Arts Council (CAC). The proposed $22.5 million cut, representing a drastic 58 percent reduction to the council’s grants budget, has been revised to a $5 million cut following robust advocacy efforts. This decision is a vital reprieve for the arts community, particularly in the Inland Empire, where arts organizations have been actively fighting against these cuts.

Advocacy Efforts Prove Impactful

Alejandro Gutierrez Chavez, Executive Director of Arts Connection, shared key updates following a meeting with Senator Steven Padilla’s office. “Thanks to our community’s collective advocacy efforts, we’ve made significant progress with our elected officials at the state level,” said Gutierrez Chavez. “Both houses have agreed to maintain the full equitable payroll fund of $12.5 million, a huge win for the performing arts sector. Additionally, they have revised the $10 million cut to the California Arts Council to a $5 million cut and have pledged to fully fund the CAC in the 2025-2026 budget. As a result, we are now looking at a $5 million cut compared to the initial $22.5 million cut. This is a significant improvement!”

The Power of Collective Voices

Josiah Bruny, Founder of Music Changing Lives, expressed his excitement during a live update on the Inland Insight with IECN Podcast. “I’m thrilled to announce that my colleagues of the California Arts Council and Californians for the Arts are in Sacramento right now, and we just received an email from them,” said Bruny. “We’re thrilled that the state leaders have reversed 75 percent of the cuts that have been proposed. Advocates have sent over 9,000 letters and made calls, our efforts have been incredibly successful. Congratulations, but there is still work that needs to be done.”

Bruny highlighted the power of collective voices in driving change. “If we are not talking about issues, signing petitions, and engaging with our legislators, nothing gets done. I want to thank everyone who participated in this advocacy.”

The Impact on the Inland Empire

The Inland Empire, a region that receives only 2 percent of the CAC budget, faces unique challenges. “So you’re talking about an agency sending out millions of dollars, and if we’re all artists here fighting for just 2 percent of the funds as the largest county in the State, that’s only 67 cents per capita being invested into our communities,” Bruny explained. “We need to become very effective at letting the state know that we lead the arts in the Inland Empire.”

Jorge Osvaldo, Executive Director of the Garcia Center for the Arts, emphasized the importance of continued advocacy. “The budget that has been approved for $12.5 million to launch the equitable payroll fund to pay performing arts creatives has been preserved as well. We need to ensure we are able to preserve agencies like the California Arts Council because there is a threat of the state trying to have the arts council placed under the governor’s office for business.”

Osvaldo underscored the importance of maintaining the CAC as an independent agency. “We want to make sure that the California Arts Council stays as an independent agency, as it ensures the people that run it have a good understanding of what it means to be a working artist and creative entrepreneur; it’ll better keep the agency from becoming a bureaucracy.”

Success Stories and Future Prospects

Osvaldo shared a success story from the Inland Empire, highlighting the impact of CAC funding. “The Inland Film Festival, which just launched a very successful event in downtown San Bernardino, received a $100K grant from the California Arts Council through the Creative Core Fund and $25K from the Impact Project Grant. This festival brought together hundreds of local filmmakers, including producers, directors, cinematographers, audio engineers, actors, and actresses. This just goes to show how important these dollars are to artists in the community.”

With the revised cuts, the arts sector in California, particularly in underserved regions like the Inland Empire, has gained a crucial reprieve. However, the fight continues as advocates work to ensure sustained and increased funding in future budgets.

The collective efforts of the arts community have made a substantial impact, demonstrating the power of advocacy and the importance of the arts in California. As the state moves forward, continued support and engagement will be critical in ensuring the vitality and growth of the arts sector.


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