SACRAMENTO – The California Arts Council hopes to expand the relevancy of the state’s appointed poetry positions to California’s next generation as the sponsor of Senate Bill 748.
California legislators have introduced SB 748 that would authorize the Governor to appoint an individual 13 to 19 years of age to serve a two-year term as California’s Youth Poet Laureate. The bill is authored by Senator Henry Stern, with coauthors Senators Ben Allen and Robert Hertzberg.
SB 748 would establish the ongoing position of California Youth Poet Laureate, a counterpart to the California Poet Laureate, that is specifically designated for adolescents. The bill furthers youth literacy and cultural awareness, engagement, and appreciation.
Poetry provides a mechanism by which people can understand experiences and perspectives that they do not share. According to a study published by the National Endowment for the Arts, poetry readership in the U.S. has risen by 76 percent in the past five years. The new audience is young, diverse, and non-academic. Poetry in education has also experienced a renaissance through the national recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud, administered statewide by the California Arts Council for the past 14 consecutive years.
“The talent, creativity, and courage of California’s youth are limitless, if effectively nurtured by our public systems and institutions,” said Anne Bown-Crawford, Director of the California Arts Council. “Establishing the California Youth Poet Laureate position will give voice to our next generation. We are grateful to Senators Stern, Allen, and Hertzberg for their leadership in creating this opportunity that is full of so much possibility for young people across the state.”
About SB 748
SB 748 would enact similar provisions to existing law for the California Poet Laureate in establishing the position of California Youth Poet Laureate. The bill would authorize the Governor to appoint an individual from among nominees 13 to 19 years of age, garnered by the California Arts Council. The bill would require the California Youth Poet Laureate to, among other things, provide a minimum of six public readings during their two-year term with the goal that people in all geographic regions of the state have reasonable access to at least one reading during the course of the term. The bill would, upon appropriation by the Legislature of funds for this purpose, require the council to provide an annual stipend of $10,000 to the California Youth Poet Laureate and to pay the California Youth Poet Laureate’s travel expenses incurred in the course of attending specific readings and meetings required by the position.
How to Support SB 748
Individuals or organizations wishing to register support for SB 748 may email support letters to firstname.lastname@example.org in Senator Stern’s office and copy Arts Council Director of Legislative Affairs, Kristin Margolis at email@example.com.
Letters of support may be brief and should state the organization/individual’s name and a short description of the organization/individual. It is common for letters to contain support language such as “Organization X supports Senate Bill 748, introduced by Senator Stern, which would establish the ongoing position of California Youth Poet Laureate.”
The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California’s diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services.
Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Vice Chair Larry Baza, Juan Devis, Jodie Evans, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Donn K. Harris, and Louise McGuinness. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov.
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