California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

October 16, 2008Mary Beth Barber

Background Information: Creative California

California's Creative Economy

The creative industries in California are essential to the state's economy, from the nonprofit visual and performing arts organizations and museums to the for-profit creative businesses like design, film, multi-media, animation and music. As of January 2008, there are 98,949 creative businesses in California that employ 500,891 people -- more than any other state in the nation -- and a 14% increase in the number of businesses and a 17% increase in the number of employees since the same time in 2007. (Source: Creative Industries report from Americans for the Arts, using Dun & Bradstreet statistical information.)

"Creative California" can be future global leader

The state is uniquely poised to be a future leader in the world because of the strength of "California Imagination." Creativity and innovation will be essential components in education and in the workforce as the U.S. competes in the global marketplace. A major study from the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce titled Tough Times or Tough Choices emphasized this point. The Commission noted that jobs requiring high skills such as engineering may go overseas to countries like India or China for a lower wage, and what will differentiate the United States will be innovation and creativity -- two qualities that are not simply enhanced by a robust artistic atmosphere, but require it.

Arts Education -- Essential to a well-rounded education

The national and state education boards agree that the visual and performing arts (music, theater, dance and the visual arts) are core subjects and need to be taught at every grade level. The arts encourage imagination, creativity, confidence, self-expression and teamwork -- great complements to a strong education in math, science and literacy. Studies show that the amount and consistency of arts education is inadequate in California and the nation, but California is moving to fill the gap. State education funding allocations of over $100 million in ongoing funding specifically for visual and performing arts education in K-12 schools were included in the state budget.

Creative Communities = Healthy Communities

Healthy communities and crime prevention are key issues for many Californians, and arts education programs and arts activities for children and youth not only provide creative outlets and intellectual stimuli for children, but are also supported by advocates like San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessy to help prevent youth delinquency and reduce crime. "If kids accomplish something like arts and music, they're more inclined to not give up later on," said Hennessy. "I support the arts because I want fewer people in my jail."

The California Arts Council

The California Arts Council, a state agency, has the mission to advance California through the arts and creativity with an emphasis on children and artistically underserved communities. The agency encourages widespread public participation in the arts; helps build strong arts organizations at the local level; assists with the professional development of arts leaders; promotes awareness of the value of the arts; and directly supports arts program for children and communities. Programs include Artists in Schools, Creating Public Value in the Arts, State-Local Arts Partnership, Poetry Out Loud, California's American Masterpieces, and others.

The Arts License Plate

The California Arts License Plate is a specialty plate that has been offered by the Department of Motor Vehicles since 1994. Proceeds from the Arts License Plate represent 60% of the California Arts Council budget and support the agency's programs for children and communities. Designed by renowned California artist Wayne Thiebaud, the California Arts License Plate is the first and most successful specialty plate program dedicated to the arts in the nation.

For more information, contact Mary Beth Barber, communications director at the California Arts Council, at 916-322-6588 and

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