State Budget Includes $10 Million Permanent Increase in California Arts Council Funding

California State Capitol

SACRAMENTO – On June 27, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a fiscal year 2019-20 state budget that includes a $10 million permanent increased funding allocation for the California Arts Council, California’s state arts agency. The permanent increase, originally outlined by Governor Newsom in his January budget proposal, was approved by the Legislature with bipartisan support.

A new permanent baseline general fund allocation of $26 million will extend the reach of the California Arts Council’s competitive grant programs that fund arts and cultural experiences benefiting diverse communities across the state. These programs address access, equity, and inclusion; community vibrancy; and arts learning and engagement; and align with the California Arts Council’s vision of a state strengthened by a spectrum of art and artists.

“We are grateful to Governor Newsom for immediately prioritizing the arts as a tool to meet the challenges facing California’s communities today,” said Anne Bown-Crawford, California Arts Council Executive Director. “Nourishing creativity creates a lasting ripple effect-fostering resilient people, resilient communities, and a resilient state. With this $10 million permanent funding increase, we will be able to make a greater impact across all corners of California through vital grants supporting communities big and small.”

“Arts and culture are at the center of our shared identity as Californians,” said Nashormeh Lindo, California Arts Council Chair. “The state’s increased investment in our Council’s grant programs will allow more Californians to experience greater well-being and a sense of belonging through arts experiences that are reflective of their unique communities. This includes uplifting our state’s artists and culture bearers, and ensuring that all youth in California’s can benefit from creative expression.”

The overall California Arts Council budget for fiscal year 2019-20 includes approximately $1.1 million in annual federal support from the National Endowment for the Arts and $2.2 million in annual funds from sales and renewals of California’s Arts License Plate and voluntary state tax return contributions to the Keep Arts in Schools Fund.

The state will continue its investment in California’s Arts in Corrections program in fiscal year 2019-20 through an additional, separate $8 million state allocation administered by the California Arts Council.

Timeline: Recent California Arts Council State General Fund Allocations
California’s state general fund investment in the arts has been steadily increasing since fiscal year 2013-14, as outlined in the chart below. According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, California ranked 26th out of 50 states in per capita state arts funding for 2018-19.

Fiscal Year(s)

State General Fund Allocation for Arts Council

2003-04 to

$1 million annual general fund allocation


$1 million general fund allocation +
$2 million one-time funding from State Assembly Operating Budget


$1 million general fund allocation +
$5 million one-time general fund allocation


$8.3 million permanent general fund allocation


$8.3 million permanent general fund allocation +
$6.8 one-time general fund allocation


$15.1 million permanent general fund allocation +
$750,000 ongoing general fund allocation to increase juvenile justice arts programming


$15.1 million permanent general fund allocation +
$8.8 million one-time general fund allocation


$26.083 million permanent general fund allocation +
$27.5 million one-time general fund allocation to seven designated investments to promote California’s arts and cultural diversity

California Arts Council Grant Programs

As announced in June, the Arts Council will invest a projected $24.5 million in arts programming statewide for the 2018-19 fiscal year that concluded on June 30, 2019. More than 1,300 grants will support projects that span the whole of the arts and cultural fields, with funding offered in 18 unique grant program areas supporting new events, classes, artwork, workshops, and other opportunities for creative expression that will directly benefit our state’s communities, with youth, veterans, returned citizens, and California’s historically marginalized communities key among them.

Arts Council grant programs are administered through a multistep, public process. Following an open call for applications, all submissions are adjudicated by peer review panels made up of experts from the arts field before the appointed Council votes on funding recommendations in a public meeting.

Interested members of the public, artists, arts organizations, and community leaders are encouraged to subscribe to the California Arts Council’s newsletter to learn about future grant opportunities as details become available.

California Arts Council’s Arts in Corrections Program
The state budget supports California’s Arts in Corrections program, as a part of the state’s multi-tiered investment in public safety, with an $8 million investment for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The California Arts Council’s Arts in Corrections program provides critical rehabilitative arts services to people experiencing incarceration in the state of California and is made possible by an interagency partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Currently in its sixth year, the program now reaches every CDCR adult institution in California and addresses the state’s critical public safety needs and priorities through the arts.

Fiscal Year 2019-20 One-Time Designated Investments
The Governor’s budget also includes an additional $27.5 million designated to promote California’s arts and cultural diversity by investing in the following: Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust ($6 million), Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center of California ($5 million), National LGBTQ Center for the Arts ($500,000), Italian American Museum ($1 million), the Latino Theater Company ($2 million), Korean American National Museum ($4 million), and Navy Training Center Foundation Renovation for Performing Arts ($9 million).

Complete details for all fiscal year 2019-20 California Arts Council general fund allocations can be found at this link: An official press release on the state budget is available at the Office of Governor Newsom’s website.

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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, Stanlee Gatti, Donn K. Harris, and Louise McGuinness. Learn more at

The California Arts Council is committed to increasing the accessibility of its online content. For language and accessibility assistance, visit

Caitlin Fitzwater

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