Important updates and news for Arts Advocates

For many of us in the arts, fall may symbolize the opening of a new season, the launch of school and after school programs and/or a fourth quarter opportunity to plan for the new year ahead. For Californians for the Arts, fall is about planning as it is for the California Legislature as well.

In October, the CFTA/CAA board will gather in Los Angeles for a retreat facilitated by arts leader Laura Zucker. At this meeting we will outline our legislative priorities and budget ask for 2020-21 and determine and plan for our program priorities for 2020 such as a summit/convening to coincide with arts advocacy day in April; an emerging leadership program, local advocacy consulting and actions to build upon the success of 2019’s inaugural Arts, Culture & Creativity Month (ACCM). How can you or your organization support and amplify our core message that arts are impactful in order to build public awareness of the value of the arts? You can simply brand your April programming with our ACCM logo but there are lots more ways to engage too. Please consider including ACCM in your planning for April 2020 and we will be in touch soon with more information.

We want your input! Please do not hesitate to contact us at We will also be sending out a short survey in October to assess how we can be of greatest service to the field.

In August, Executive Director Julie Baker participated in an Emergency Preparedness training and cultural placekeeping grant program from the CAC administered by her local arts council. Some practical tips and tools were shared and it brought up what is the role artists and creatives can play before, during and post disasters including the concept of artists as second responders. In late August, Julie brought this perspective to her own community’s emergency planning. It was empowering to see how arts could be at the table, serving as a good model for how arts deliver social impact and are necessary alongside other service agencies. Do you have examples of this in your work? We want to know!

Finally, we are excited to launch a more robust advocacy center on our website. A place to look up your legislators and find out more information on pressing issues and how to participate in federal and statewide action alerts. Visit this link for more information!

May your Fall be inspiring and empowering and full of great programs and plans for cultivating California as the leading state of creativity!

In advocacy,


Julie Baker, Executive Director

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Victoria Hamilton, Board President

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September 13 is the last day for each house of the legislature to pass bills and then they go into study recess until January 6, 2020. Governor Newsom has until October 13 to sign or veto bills passed by the legislature. As our monthly newsletters have indicated, we’ve had a very busy legislative session. Of course our greatest victory was to see a $10 million in increased permanent funding for the California Arts Council but we also worked on advocating for or against or to amend several pieces of legislation. Our primary focus and a tremendous amount of our efforts and resources has gone to seeking an exemption for artists in AB5 which codifies the 2018 California Supreme Court “Dynamex” decision that restricts when employers can classify workers as independent contractors and deny them benefits like overtime, sick leave and minimum wage.

AB 5 would add the following to CA labor code:

(a) (1) For purposes of the provisions of this code and the Unemployment Insurance Code, and for the wage orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission, a person providing labor or services for remuneration shall be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that all of the following conditions are satisfied:

(A) The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.

(B) The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.

(C) The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.”

For the arts industry, item (B) is the most problematic as many artists are independent contractors providing services to arts organizations. And so, we were pleased that due to our direct lobbying efforts through our partner organization California Arts Advocates and our lobbyist, “fine artists” were included in the professional services exemptions. We continue to build the argument for exemptions for performing artists as well as teaching artists. We do not believe the bill’s authors intended to create undue hardships for artists or the creative economy and we will continue to illustrate, even as the bill is signed into law, how this negatively impacts our industry. As reported in the New York Times on September 9, “A.B. 5 is going to pass,” said State Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco, Uber and Lyft’s hometown, who supports the bill. “But I’m confident this issue will be active in the Legislature for years to come.”

Please note AB 5 codifies the CA Supreme Court Dynamex decision and unless an exemption is listed, all other employers must comply with the existing law.

We will keep you informed to how you can be involved as we develop this case further.


Perhaps what the advent of AB 5 illustrated most for us is the clear need for a robust and well-positioned advocacy organization. With a staff of one and a lobbyist on a modest retainer, it is challenging for us to provide all the programs and services needed for maximum success. According to lobbying reports filed with the state, groups representing workers given exemptions spent at least $2.9 million lobbying in the first half of the year on AB 5 and other measures. An exemption for fine artists is a victory but there is still more work to be done.

This is why your support as an organizational member or individual member is so critical. In order for us to properly serve the enormity of the field’s needs in a state as large as California, we would ideally have more than one person on staff. With your help, we will get there. Please consider joining today.

We realize we are not the only organization providing critical services to our communities with only one employee or by a majority of volunteer efforts. That is why we continue to advocate for increased public funding for the arts. The work of the creative economy is impactful and necessary and deserves investment and support.


Report from the California Arts Council Meeting September 6, 2019 –
Stay informed on funding opportunities and Council decisions

CAC Meeting: LtoR; Larry Baza, Vice-Chair CAC, Harini Krishnan, San Mateo County Arts Commissioner, Julie Baker, Executive Director, Californians for the Arts

CAC Meeting: LtoR; Larry Baza, Vice-Chair CAC, Harini Krishnan, San Mateo County Arts Commissioner, Julie Baker, Executive Director, Californians for the Arts

We try to have representation from CFTA at every arts council meeting. It is critical as we advocate to our legislatures and the administration for increased public funding for the arts, to witness and publicly comment on policy, program and strategic decisions made by the council. This too is advocacy! The 9 hour (!) Friday meeting was held at the digital media campus SAE Expressions College and was hosted by the Alameda County Arts Commission and Rotten City, the Emmeryville Cultural Arts District. Californians for the Arts was delighted to host the post meeting reception.

It’s impossible to share everything that occurred in nine hours of a meeting (and meeting minutes are not yet posted) but here are the highlights you should be aware of! Congratulations to the staff and CAC council for all their hard work to deliver robust programs for our state.

CAC Chair Nashormeh Lindo’s eloquent and inspiring Chair reports are reason alone to attend Council meetings. Read the full report here:

  • Guidelines for several grant programs were adopted with many grants due in November. Check here for updates.

  • Council voted to increase project-based grants from a maximum request amount of $18,000 to $20,000.

  • ·Council voted to encumber both years of the State-Local Partnership grant allocations in 2019 for a maximum of $90,000

  • Council voted to increase maximum request amount for the Professional Development grant from $1,000 to $3,000.

  • Council voted to increase the Arts and Accessibility grant from $165,000 to $500,000 with one grantee, UCLA, who then administers the program.

  • Council voted to increase the Artists in Schools - Arts Integration Training from $2,500 to $5,000.

  • Council voted to approve that applicants of project grants with maximum awards of less than $50,000 will be required to only submit budget snapshots that exists in the current CAC grants management

  • System, rather than the DataArts Funder Report.

  • Council voted to approve requiring applicants to certify that they are in good standing as a non-profit corporation with the Secretary of State. You can search here to see if you are “Active” and in good standing.

  • Council voted to use a more inclusive definition of a veteran that acknowledges foreign-born individuals who had served alongside US Military forces.

  • Council voted to adjust the State and Local Partnership grant to a two-year program that opens every two years.

  • Council voted to approve a $1,165,000 Emerging Arts Leaders of Color Fellowship Administering Organization program grant to the School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza. This allocation includes $350,000 of CAC Local Assistance Funds with additional funding from The Irvine Foundation.

The next CAC is meeting is December 5, location TBD.

2020 meetings are tentatively set for: Thursday, January 30, 2020 and Wednesday, April 1, 2020

ANNOUNCEMENT: Arts grant season is officially open! 15 programs now accepting applications and nearly $35 million to be awarded – the most in CAC agency’s history. Find out more at


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In June we launched our first membership drive. Our goal was $20,000 but unfortunately we fell short of our goal, reaching less than $8000 during the drive. We truly appreciate everyone who joined! It’s not too late however to become a member. Membership is good for one year and supports our efforts to increase funding for the arts, build public awareness of the value of arts, culture and creativity as well as legislation that serves and protects artists and arts organizations.

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Why Your Membership Matters

At Californians for the Arts, we’ve done an impressive job of building public awareness of the arts and advocating for increased state funding levels to over 800% in 5 years. However, we need help advocating for ourselves!

We want to be your viable and sustainable arts advocacy organization to support and benefit all Californians. We need your support to expand our programs, outreach and services and build our capacity to serve the needs of the 5th largest economy in the world and the most populous and diverse state in America. Arts champions deserve a voice and Californians for the Arts is here to represent you.

We work with you and for you.
We rely on our members to be active arts advocates, and in return we promise to deliver quality leadership opportunities, reliable information, and advocacy resources.

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Sara Zahn