A Work in Progress:
Arts Funding at the Federal, State & Local Level
The arts community is on pins and needles as decisions about arts funding programs are at varying stages of being made.
On the local level, following ArtsOC's advocacy win that resulted in the Orange County Board of Supervisors allocating $5 million of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal funding for relief grants to nonprofit arts organizations and arts-related businesses, each Supervisor has been custom designing their program to meet the needs of their own district. The first to announce their plan is District 4, whose Supervisor Doug Chaffee has opted to use their $1 million for small grants of $5,000. At least two other districts are planning grants that are larger in amount, and their announcements are forthcoming. The grant programs are expected to announce they are open to applicants by the end of this month.
Also on the local level, the City of Santa Ana, is discussing plans for the use of its ARPA funding, and has included $500,000 in relief to the arts community for arts programming. Some Santa Ana arts advocates are urging the City Council to increase that to $1 million. Stay tuned.
On the state level, arts advocates developed a bold $1 Billion ask from California's large ARPA allocation, comprised of multiple elements and aimed to cover 2-4 years of support. Some would be targeting small organizations and underserved populations, some would be for performing arts venues and museums, some would be for cultural districts and creative workforce initiatives. The Legislature is in the final throes of hammering out the budget as it wends its way toward the June 15th deadline.
On the federal level, the first administration-proposed increase for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in over four years has been proposed as President Biden has asked to fund the agency at $201 million--a $33.5 million increase. The prior administration sought (unsuccessfully) to eliminate the agency every year it was in office. (This increase would be for ongoing funding beginning in the next fiscal year; the NEA already received $135 million in ARPA relief funding, 40% of which is bloc-granted to the states by federal mandate. Neither the NEA nor the California Arts Council has yet announced how they plan to distribute their ARPA relief funding to the arts community.) Of course, Congress has the power of the purse, and the final budget number will be an outcome of that process. However, it is not too early to express your support by using this simple tool to let Senators Feinstein and Padilla know you're in favor of this.