California Lawyers for the Arts empowers the creative community by providing education, representation and dispute resolution.
Artists and arts organizations serve as agents of democratic involvement, innovation, and positive social change, and the growth of an empowered arts sector is essential to healthy communities. CLA’s leadership and services strengthen the arts for the benefit of communities throughout California.
Advocacy for Arts Funding
After 2003, when the California Arts Council's state general fund allocation dropped from $32 million to $1.1 million, California Lawyers for the Arts actively pursued the restoration of the state's arts budget through symposia and dialogues on the value of the arts, advocacy for arts program in corrections, celebrations recognizing arts supporters, articles in various media and presentations before legislative bodies. The CAC budget for 2017-18 is now more than $26 million, which funds arts programs and services in schools, neighborhoods, correctional institutions and communities across the state.
Beginning in 2011, California Lawyers for the Arts launched an Arts-in-Corrections Initiative in collaboration with the William James Association and California Arts Advocates. Following our successful demonstration project in several California prisons, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation initiated a $2.5 million two-year contract with the California Arts Council for arts programs in up to 19 state prisons starting in 2014. This major breakthrough was inspired by a study by Dr. Larry Brewster of the University of San Francisco that described the benefits of arts programs for inmates' attitudes and behavior, based on pre and post surveys of participants in four state prisons. The funding for prison arts leveraged an additional $5 million for the state arts council budget that year, bringing the total to $10 million for 2015-16.
In 2016, Governor Brown's budget initiated an additional $4 million for arts programs in all 38 state prisons--for a total of $6 million for 2016-17. Again, the legislature added another augmentation of $10 million for other Arts Council programs, for a total State general fund allocation of $21 million for 2016-17. We had an opportunity to thank Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Sen, Jim Nielson (R-Roseville), for their bi-partisan leadership that supported increases in the state budget for the arts at our festive Artistic License Awards benefit event in Sacramento in May, 2016.
In June, 2017, CLA presented its second national conference on Arts in Corrections in collaboration with the William James Association and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Arts in Corrections: Building Bridges to the Future celebrated the success of the Arts in Corrections Initiative, as well as the 40th anniversary of the William James Association.
Help the California Arts Council Reach 1-Million Arts License Plates!
Art Makes Us Human