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        Observations from the road: Statewide travels with CEO Julie Baker

        Legislative & Budget Updates

        7/11/23 | Julie Baker

        It is my great pleasure and honor to represent our two organizations in events across the state. In the last couple of months I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of special events. I hope you will join us in our efforts to build an organized network of arts advocates to engage elected officials and community leaders and share how arts are a part of the solution to build a better, more inclusive and healthier California for all. If you are interested to have someone from our organization speak or attend your event, please contact:

        At the Capitol

        “My family and I, we grew up in farmworker housing, and today I stand before you as a speaker of the California state Assembly,” Rivas said to loud applause in the Assembly chamber. “That is the California Dream.”

        After 7 years as the Speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon, a great supporter and friend to the arts, stepped down after a protracted and bitter battle for his seat. On June 30, Robert Rivas of Hollister, CA became the 71st Speaker of the California State Assembly and I was lucky enough to be a witness to the transition. Thanks to CAA Policy committee chair and board member Jennifer Laine who attended highschool with the Speaker, we were invited to a party the night before and to attend the inauguration in the Assembly Chamber.

        While acknowledging the work ahead to restore the CA dream for those who are no longer able to attain it, (citing for example that the median house price in CA is $775,000) there were also plenty of moments to celebrate with friends and powerful allies, his rise to this important leadership position in California politics.

        Rivas highlighted his family’s immigrant roots in his speech, telling the story of his grandfather, Servando Flores, who left Mexico for California. Flores joined the United Farm Workers (UFW) movement to fight for a union contract, and became a vineyard mechanic. Dolores Huerta, who along with Cesar Chavez, founded the UFW, was a special guest at the inauguration. I had a chance to connect with her at the party the night before and share how we are fighting for artists to be recognized and valued for their contributions and how there is so much to be learned from the movement she co-founded. She was generous with ideas and her time and I am hopeful there will be more opportunities to work together soon.

        Rivas shared that diversity is our greatest strength today and the love, community and service were the three forces that got him where he is today. He said it is important that we “Bring others up as we rise.”

        The inauguration was a who’s who of the Democratic party with excited assembly members and guests (like me!) lining up for selfie’s with Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Governor Gavin Newsom. The arts were well represented with special guest Luis Valdez, Founder El Teatro Campesino and musical performances by all female Mariachi band Las Colibri and Sacramento based BlesS’D choir.


        We invite you to welcome Speaker Rivas to the Assembly by sending him a letter through our automated system or on Twitter with a sample tweet. It is critical that he knows the arts community is organized, that we are watching his leadership and ask for his commitment to support the creative industries with increased investments and resources for workers to thrive in California.

        PROP 28 Events:

        In May, Prop 28 advocates gathered at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at The Music Center for Arts and Music in Schools Launch: The Promise of Prop 28. Special guests included Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Austin Beutner, Author of Prop 28, and artists Aloe Blacc,, and Jason Alexander. In June, we gathered at the Getty for The State of the Arts, The Power and Potential of Prop 28 for California with some interesting panels including a discussion led by Deborah Cullinan VP of the Arts, Stanford University, with the authors of the book Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transforms Us who shared their research that proves daily access to art measurably changes brain and body to increase executive function, social emotional learning, character development and identity. They shared that with this level of funding through Prop 28, California could be a model for proving the benefits of arts education and generate enthusiasm for creativity as the future of work.

        At each event, participants were introduced to the vision for the ballot measure but many of the questions and concerns surrounding the implementation and accountability of Prop 28 were left unanswered. For example, the need for an estimated 15,000 certified arts teachers to deliver on the promise of the ballot measure remains a problem to be addressed as well as who will manage the program inside CDE. Those who worked on the campaign and for those who will benefit from the funding directly, are asking how and when will the funds be distributed, how does the field engage and on a practical level who do you speak to when interested to apply for a waiver.


        Our colleagues at CreateCA are directly involved in the monitoring and advocacy needed to ensure the promise of Prop 28 is realized. We support and amplify their efforts and encourage everyone to follow them to learn about how you can engage with your local school board and community to access Prop 28 funding and bring arts education to all students in California. For more information, visit here.

        Regional Arts Advocacy

        I was invited to speak on a panel about economic recovery in the arts at State of the Arts Summit 2023: Rebuilding our Communities, presented by Arts for a Better Bay Area in San Francisco. Many speakers, including Maria Jenson, Executive Director of SOMArts Cultural Center and a newly appointed board member to our organizations, reminded the audience of the staying power of arts in the Bay area to transform communities and while the press will focus on a doom narrative for San Francisco, the arts are alive and will continue to be an essential community and economic development tool for the City to rebuild and thrive.

        While I shared all that advocacy has brought in terms of relief funding these last several years, I also encouraged participants to engage as there is so much more work to be done to increase investment, provide creative solutions for long term sustainability of the arts ecosystem, engage artists in advocacy and build creativity hubs across CA where creative businesses are incubated for a community’s economic health, resilience and public wellness.

        It was also a chance to see people I often only see through a Zoom filter, in person! It was especially wonderful to hug outgoing board members Ron P. Muriera and Rachel Osajima and thank them personally for their combined almost 20 years of service to the organization.

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