VIDEO: Building a More Equitable Recovery for California’s Arts and Culture Economy

1024 576 John Guenther

Arts for LA (AFLA), a nonprofit advocacy organization campaigning to increase funding, diversify and improve the quality of creative jobs, equitable access to arts education, and affordable space for artists and organizations, recently released their 2022 Policy and Advocacy Agenda. The new Agenda shares priorities that build on the needs and critical concerns of workers in the creative economy, which represent 681,211 jobs in California and 7.5% of the state’s gross domestic product. This is more than the Construction and Utilities industries combined for the state of CA.

In the video above, we spoke to AFLA CEO Gustavo Herrera, also a member of CA FWD’s Leadership Council and the Policy Chair of Californians for the Arts, about the importance of the arts and culture economy in California.

“Arts and Culture is the issue that brings folks — no matter what side of the aisle — together,” said Herrera. “The arts create jobs and build more equitable communities. As this year continues to unfold, Californians will continue to see just how critical a role arts and culture will play in the healing and rebuilding process of this state and country.”

The Policy and Advocacy Agenda was created through a process that engaged over 1,000 artists, arts workers, arts advocates and civic leaders from across the region, which has the largest concentration of creative industries in the state, representing 1 in 6 jobs in the region.

The concerns that were heard included making sure creative workers have a strong voice in the creative economy, working toward increased community control over land-use decisions, providing education equity through high-quality arts instruction, and realizing a just recovery for all.

One example of the policy priorities is advocating for space share programs that provide affordable space access to artists and arts organizations, through partnerships with public agencies, funders, developers and cultural and business districts. This priority grew from the increasing problem of a lack of affordable workspace and housing in the region.

Read more about AFLA’s Policy and Advocacy Agenda here.

Herrera also spoke with us about the effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on the creative workforce and efforts to rebuild in an equitable way by creating more accessible pathways into arts and culture jobs for underrepresented communities.

He also mentions a legislative success achieved last year, the signing of SB 628, the California Creative Workforce Act, which AFLA co-sponsored with CA Arts Advocates and advocated for and creates a program to encourage “learn and earn” job training employment opportunities in the arts. This year, the advocacy will focus on securing $50 million dollars to resource the program.

The opportunities would be designated for underrepresented, low-income or unemployed creative workers, and others interested in the creative sector. The Act will also require those opportunities to last for no less than 12 months and no more than 24 months and to pay a living wage. Arts for LA is launching an eight-year initiative to pathway 10,000 workers into the creative workforce.


John Guenther

All stories by: John Guenther