Why the Arts?
Culture is the strongest signifier of our identity as Californians. And, as California’s state arts agency, it is our role to ensure that the arts are prioritized by our state.
Explore the benefits of the arts by topic
Transforming Community Development through Arts and Culture (2019): Published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Published in partnership with ArtPlace America and PolicyLink, this issue of the Community Development Innovation Review explores the power of arts and culture to transform the practice of community development offers reflections from industry leaders on the implications for the broader community development field. The diverse range of authors includes artists, community developers, bankers, and researchers, and their collective voices frame a rich conversation on how openness to the creative process can help community development organizations better achieve their mission of expanding opportunity for low-income communities.
Creating Healthy Communities: Arts + Public Health in America (2019): With the public health sector as a primary intended audience, the Creating Healthy Communities through Cross-sector Collaboration white paper frames the value of the arts and culture for advancing health and well-being in communities. It offers examples and recommendations for expanding cross-sector collaboration and innovation. Published by The University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine & ArtPlace America.
Otis Report on the Creative Economy (2020): Started in 2007, the Otis Report on the Creative Economy chronicles the creative economy of Los Angeles and California through five creative industries through eight regions of the state. Direct and indirect employment generated by the state’s creative industries constitute 15.4% of California’s total employment.
The California Arts Council’s policies and practices prioritize racial equity. Click here to view our Racial Equity Learning Center.
Rural Prosperity through the Arts and Creative Sector (2019): Produced by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts and National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the Rural Prosperity through the Arts and Creative Sector is an action guide offering creative policy solutions that draw on home-grown arts and cultural assets to address the urgent problems facing rural America. While there are many inspiring success stories to celebrate in rural areas, some regions also are contending with stark economic challenges, outmigration, education gaps and infrastructure needs. By leveraging the creative industries, states can deploy proven strategies that help all rural communities to thrive.
Living Traditions (2019): This first-ever analysis of the National Endowment for the Arts' Folk & Traditional Arts awards portfolio explores the program’s geographic reach, its capacity to address historically underserved populations, and the activities and achievements of its grantees and partners.
Why are state arts agencies essential?
State arts agencies exemplify government by, for and of the people.
Each state arts agency is governed by a council of citizen leaders that oversees its work. Broad public engagement is central to state arts agency planning, grant decisions and programs that respond to local needs. State arts agencies are funded through appropriations from state legislatures. By law, state arts agencies also receive 40% of the federal grant dollars Congress provides to the National Endowment for the Arts.
Leading public-sector organizations—including the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Education Commission of the States—have identified the arts as part of a strong state policy portfolio.
Business leaders, economists, property developers, tourism officials and community planners have joined with parents, educators and civic leaders to promote public policies that strengthen the arts. They do so because they recognize the benefits that accrue to communities when government helps to foster a robust arts sector.
The presence of a strong state arts agency ensures that all communities—regardless of their geographic location, political affiliation or economic status—are systematically and equitably served. Other public funding mechanisms do not attain these same goals.
For instance, legislative earmarks are used in some states to supplement arts appropriations. While these line items can be a valuable source of funding, they inevitably exclude some communities. Local government funding is another key source of arts support, but it remains uneven, with more resources and opportunities available to residents of larger communities. Only state arts agencies are positioned to provide strategic and equitable leadership and support to all areas of a state.