Californians for the Arts


Californians for the Arts (CFTA) is a highly effective non-partisan statewide arts advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure the opportunity for all people to have access to and involvement in the arts. Californians For The Arts 501(c) 3 organizes the arts community and California Arts Advocates 501 (c) 4 lobbies the State Legislature and Congress on issues pertaining to arts, culture and creativity

Advocacy vs Lobbying

During legislative sessions, our statewide network of advocates spring to action to contact our legislators through phone calls, letters, visits, and emails. This communication allows legislators to vote on arts issues knowing that their constituents believe the arts are important.

legislative calendar

There is always a way to advocate on behalf of the arts, no matter what the season. Communication with elected officials is most effective when it is ongoing, rather than simply during a crisis. Take the time to get to know the people who represent you, and tell them who you are and why you care about the arts.

CFTA POlicy framework

Californians for the Arts uses the following priorities to determine our own policy agenda, specifically what we are advocating for with policy makers, and whether or not we endorse or support specific issues and bills at the state, federal, and local levels. We support all arts forms, including dance, literature, media arts, music, theater, visual arts, traditional arts and crafts, and multidisciplinary programs.


During legislative sessions, our statewide network of advocates spring to action to contact our legislators through phone calls, letters, visits, and emails. This communication allows legislators to vote on arts issues knowing that their constituents believe the arts are important.

In April 2019, we inaugurated a month long celebration and actions building awareness of the impact of Arts, Culture and Creativity in California on April 23, 2019 with a day of legislative visits at the Capitol in Sacramento.

Legislators and the Governor work hard to build relationships in their districts, raise money for their campaigns, and get elected. It is important that arts advocates get involved in the campaigns of candidates of all parties so legislators will be aware of our issues and our voting strengths.

Policy Framework


We advocate for the restoration of reduced arts funds, maintenance of existing funding, and support increased funding and resources for public arts and culture agencies, nonprofit arts organizations, and individual artists.


We advocate for public funding for arts education. We support arts education as a core subject for all students, including the ongoing inclusion of arts education in the education code, ensuring schools compliance with education code, and integrating the arts throughout all core subject areas. We support resources for teachers, their professional development, and increasing the number of credentialed arts specialists across the state. We support the inclusion of professional artists, teaching artists, and community arts organizations in all aspects of California's public education system.


We advocate for a strong creative economy. We support creating more employment opportunities within the creative economy. We support keeping and incentivizing creative industries in California. We support keeping charitable tax deductions benefiting individuals and nonprofit arts organizations. We support creator’s rights, cultural districts, microloans, business loans, technical assistance for artists, and public art in public places. We support resources for increasing cultural tourism across the state.


We advocate for equitable access to arts and culture across all parts of the state, including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented based on race/ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, citizenship status, or religion; to support for artists, nurturing accessible, thriving venues for expression; and the fair distribution of programmatic, financial, and informational resources.


We advocate for using arts and culture as a tool for social change. We support embedding artists and arts practices in government departments such as health, justice, education, and transportation as a way to innovate and connect people in better, more effective and efficient ways. We support the creation of neighborhood health indicators that include the arts. We support including arts and culture in land use policies.

Advocacy Calendar


The California State Legislature and United States Congress convene. Learn about your representatives: what district are you in; where is the nearest local office; what are the relevant phone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses? 

California State Capitol Switchboard (916) 322-9900 out who represents you here:

U.S. House of Representatives Switchboard (202) 225-3121

U.S. Senate Switchboard (202) 456-1414

 Volunteer to help CFTA with the current session and Arts, Culture and Creativity Day and month of activities. 


Write letters to newly elected or re-elected officials, offering congratulations, thanking them for past help, urging support for state funding for the arts, etc. Include your organization’s brochure.  Read CFTA’s monthly emails and and respond to calls-to-action. Recruit friends and family to attend Arts, Culture and Creativity actions with you!


Call three family members or friends and ask them to help in future efforts. Write to the chairs of the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees asking for their commitment to funding the California Arts Council (CAC). Attend the Americans for the Arts Annual Arts Advocacy Conference in Washington D.C. and/or write your House Representative and two Senators to support funding the NEA and national arts-related issues.


Celebrate Arts, Culture and Creativity Month with statewide actions and a day of action and advocacy at the Capitol in Sacramento.


The Governor submits the “May Revise” to the Legislature. E-mail your elected officials and ask for their support for arts funding through the CAC.


The deadline to pass the California State Budget is on June 15. Ask your legislators to support the arts.


Write letters supporting or opposing legislation that impacts the arts in your community. Send copies to the Governor and California Arts Advocates.


Make sure your elected officials and/or district staff people are on your mailing list for invitations to your concerts, openings and/or events. Send them press releases about your organization, and if applicable, send a thank you for a CAC or NEA grant.


The Legislature is in recess. Visit your state legislator in the district office. Invite him/her and/or staff members to an event. 


Plan an event to celebrate California Arts Day? and ask your elected official to attend. Congress targets October 1 for adjournment. Visit your Congress member and state legislator in the district office. Invite him/her and/or staff members to an event.


Vote! Send congratulations to your newly elected officials.


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 23. Add your legislators to your holiday card list. 

Download PDF of Legislative Calendar for 2019.

Advocacy vs Lobbying


Advocacy is identifying, embracing and promoting a cause, and then using information and education to make a compelling case for that cause. It can shape public perception, as well as public policy. There are no limits to advocacy efforts that can be accomplished through education outreach that includes direct mail, publications, presentations and the Internet.

Informing elected officials about the need for a greater investment in the arts is advocacy. Presenting materials to lawmakers that make the case for this need is also advocacy.


A 501(c)(3) can choose from two sets of rules: a measure based purely on expenditures or a

general "insubstantial part" test. 501(c)(3)s that choose to use the expenditure test can spendup to 20% of their budget on legislative lobbying. For those that do not "elect," they fall under a "substantial part" test, in which lobbying may not constitute more than an insubstantial part of a charity's activities.

Direct Lobbying: Attempting to “influence legislation”

• Communication made to either a legislator or a government employee who may participate in the formulating of legislation.

• Refers to a specific piece of legislation.

• Expresses a view or position on specific legislation.

Grassroots Lobbying: Communication directed to the general public

• Attempt to influence legislation by encouraging the public to take action.

• Refers to specific legislation, urges a position and calls to action.

Exclusions from Lobbying:

• Communications that discuss legislation without a call to action.

• Providing pertinent facts about a legislative issue to enable an independent opinion.

• Respond to a request from a legislative committee for technical advice on legislation.

• Taking a position on legislation that might affect the organization’s right to exist.


Section 501(h) of the Internal Revenue Code authorizes nonprofits to elect an optional measure of their lobbying activities known as the 'expenditure test', and is considered a much easier method to keep track of the amount of legal lobbying in an organization. The total lobbying expenditures limits under the 501(h) expenditure test are:

• 20 % of the first $500,000 exempt purpose expenditures ($100,000).

• 15% of the next $500,000, 10% of the next and 5% of the remaining expenditures.

• Maximum of $1 million in lobbying expenses.