Arts in the California governor’s race


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Recently Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation that would allow school districts to dilute art education requirements in California high schools. He made the right call: The plan was a misguided attempt to ease dropout rates. The arts don’t always make it into political campaigns, least of all for governor, but the veto shows that the subject can matter significantly.

Now, a nonpartisan coalition seeks to move the arts onto a front burner -- or at least somewhere in the vicinity of the kitchen -- before November’s election. Arts in the California Governor’s Race describes itself as a consortium of ‘nonprofit arts organizations, arts support groups, artists and concerned individual supporters of the arts [who] believe strongly in the need for meaningful public support for the arts and arts education.’


They have their work cut out for them.

Jerry Brown’s website shows just two mentions of the arts, both citing accomplishments from long ago (putting artists on the California Arts Council in the 1970s and founding Oakland School for the Arts, a pre-professional secondary training school, in 2001). A look through Meg Whitman’s website turned up no arts references.

Arts in the California Governor’s Race notes that the nonprofit arts sector is a sizable employer -- 66,000 full-time and 95,000 part-time jobs -- with a $5.4-billion economic impact in California. It returns $300 million in state and local tax revenues.

Those are impressive numbers. More information about the nonpartisan arts issue group and its plans for the 2010 campaign’s final weeks is here.

--Christopher Knight