Good morning from Sacramento where we are attending the California Arts Council convening of State Local Partners and Statewide Regional Networks.
On Friday, we attended the California Arts Council meeting for public comments in the morning and then had a lively and engaging meeting with arts thought leaders discussing the landscape for arts advocacy in California, the opportunities we have with a new administration to re-state our case for the impact the creative sector has on California and the need to scale our organization to meet this opportunity. We were delighted that Assemblymember Kansen Chu, a legislative leader for the arts and the Chair of the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, & Internet Media Committee and Co-Chair – California Joint Committee on the Arts was able to join us as well.
Californians for the Arts (CFTA) and California Arts Advocates (CAA) are your state arts advocacy organizations. CFTA is our non-profit organization and a statewide regional network under the California Arts Council. CFTA will be leading trainings across the state as we build towards Arts, Culture and Creativity Month in April. CAA is our 501 (c) 4 organization and our primary activity is to lobby the Legislature to increase permanent funding for the Arts and to protect and support legislation that is friendly towards the creative sector.
Today we are excited to launch our new website for Californians for the Arts. Stay tuned as we continue to add content including an Advocacy toolkit.
We are also pleased that you can now make your membership donations online at both websites. Please see our new membership program for CFTA here and join today. Together we can make California the leading state of Creativity and build a sustainable and vibrant state using creativity as the driver for social change and wellness.
California is celebrating a new and historic legislature with the largest group of Democrats sworn in, in modern California history. California is also learning how to live with the effects of climate change as we saw devastating fires rage through our State in late November.
In this newsletter, we interview
Debra Lucero, CFTA/CAA Board Member, Arts Leader and incoming Butte County Supervisor on the role the Arts sector plays in disaster recovery. As arts advocates, we see the critical role artists and culture workers play in solving social issues. As California faces growing challenges for housing and affordability, homelessness, climate change, transportation, criminal justice, immigration, healthcare, education, gun safety, prison reform and more, what role can and should the arts sector play in working towards building a better California? We want to hear your stories of success and your ideas for creative results based actions. Share your stories on our Facebook page or email them to email@example.com.
We hope the holidays bring everyone a chance to rest and spend time with loved ones. We know the work we all do in the creative sector is inspiring but it is also hard work. We celebrate you and your accomplishments and we thank you for your support.
Executive Director, CAA/CFTA
Victoria L. Hamilton
President of CAA/CFTA
California’s Legislative Session began on Monday, December 3rd. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was chosen to lead for another term by his colleagues and Senators again chose Democrat Toni Atkins of San Diego as the president pro tempore. There are 80 assemblymembers and 40 senators. 17 lawmakers are taking their seats for the first time, nine in the Senate and eight in the Assembly.
Democrats hold 60 Assembly seats and 29 Senate seats. Rendon highlighted the Assembly’s diverse group of representatives, which includes 23 women. In the Senate, Democratic Sen. Melissa Hurtado is the state’s youngest female senator ever at age 30. Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio and Sen. Susan Rubio are the first sisters to serve together in the Legislature.
According to the Los Angeles Times, it’s the largest group of Democrats sworn in in modern California history. Based on reporting from the Associated Press.
Update your data base with the names of newly elected officials.
Volunteer to help CFTA to prepare for the legislative session and Arts, Culture and Creativity actions and day at the Capitol on April 24.
Add your legislators to your holiday card list and let them know how important the arts, culture and creativity are to a healthy and vibrant California.
Fill out this easy California Priorities Survey and let Governor Newsom know directly how important the arts are to California.
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Join CFTA or CAA or give a year end gift appeal.
Do you believe arts being accessible for every Californian is imperative?
Do you feel California should be the leading creative state?
Do you think arts and artists can play a vital role in solving some of California’s greatest challenges?
Do you want to see funding to match these goals?
Then it is time to support Californians for the Arts,
your statewide arts advocacy organization.
As we gear up to actively work with a new administration to publicly fund the arts at historic levels and build our delegate programs with trainings across the state, your support for our organization is needed now more than ever. Please join online today!
Q: Over the last 2 years you’ve seen the devastation of wildfires in your county with most recently the CampFire in the town of Paradise. As an incoming Supervisor and Arts Leader, what role do you feel arts play in disaster relief?
DL: The most recent Camp Fire has been the most destructive in California state history. The magnitude of this is something we’re all trying to get our heads around. We’re grappling with the fact an entire town of 27,000 people is literally gone and other nearby places like Concow, Magalia, and Butte Creek Canyon nearly destroyed. In fact, the fire killed 88 people and another 25 are missing. It destroyed nearly 14,000 single-family residences, nearly 300 multi-residence dwellings, 528 commercial buildings and over 4,000 other minor structures. An estimated 564 more were damaged. Eight of nine schools were damaged or destroyed. The easier way to understand what happened in Paradise is how many buildings were left standing: 1,786 structures survived.
But beyond this destruction is the mental anguish experienced by first responders, nurses, doctors, teachers and everyday citizens who fled The Ridge amidst towering flames, a sky as black as midnight and who, unfortunately, witnessed burned out vehicles and mayhem - scenes of war against our normally tranquil and beautiful environment. Many nearly died themselves.
This is where the healing properties of creating art can begin. Whether it is through music or painting or storytelling or sculpting or stringing beads. Art therapy is rooted in the idea that creative expression can foster healing and mental well-being. It helps tell difficult stories of survival. It helps us sort through the complex emotions of trauma and most importantly, it helps us heal.
Q: Are there examples of how artists have helped in disaster recovery in your community?
DL: In Redding, where the Carr Fire ravaged that community this summer, Art from the Ashes immediately sprung up and began to “rescue” items from burned out homes, farms, and businesses. These are being housed in a facility that will be open to artists from all over the Western U.S. to create art from these strangely beautiful remnants of peoples’ material lives. We are putting out a Call to Artists to assist in this process which will culminate in a gallery show and monies raised will go to those who lost their homes and businesses.
Additionally, the first thing I’ve noticed in these last two fires is the heart-felt desire to DO SOMETHING for those who lost nearly everything except their life. This desperate response comes from the artistic community who give of their talents to hold concerts and workshops and more to raise money for victims. One artist I know painted 100 canvases and a mere $10 a piece to raise $1,000 for local artists who lost their art supplies.
Q: There is a concept being developed of Artists as Second Responders. Do you think this is an accurate depiction?
DL: I hadn’t heard of this exact phrase but I find it appropriate. Unfortunately, I think we are far away from Artists being seen as “Second Responders.” There is such focus (rightfully so) on the first responders who risk their lives saving all of us. But when the dust settles and the trauma begins to settle in; that’s when art therapists and artists and musicians come together to provide relief - the only kind they know how to bring - through the beauty of their talents. It may be a song or a poem or a beautiful image of what was - like an artist who had painted the Covered Bridge in Butte Creek Canyon (now completely destroyed) and is now using the painting to raise funds for victims.
Q: In your experience, what legislation or public funding is needed for artists and arts organizations who experience a disaster such as wildfire?
DL: Professional artists can seek relief through the Small Business Administration which offers low-interest loans. Businesses of any size and private, nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. These loans cover losses that are not fully covered by insurance or other recoveries.
However, I do think we need to begin a more collaborative, statewide approach to disasters and the effect on local artists and our artistic community. The fabric of our existence is already stretch so thin. Perhaps there could be a special disaster relief program through the California Arts Council to assist with general operating grants to help organizations adversely affected by disaster? CERF, which bills itself as THE ARTISTS SAFETY NET is one national organization that has been on the frontlines of disasters from earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. We need more safety nets for our artistic community.
Perhaps in California, it’s time to recognize the collective creative genius represented here. Perhaps it’s time to lobby our legislators about the hundreds of artists who have lost entire collections of work, studios and more. Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge the underlying creative nature of our state and begin to protect it - just like we protect our natural treasures.