April is Arts, Culture and Creativity Month

Californians for the Arts on our state’s new springtime celebration

Californians for the Arts Executive Director Julie Baker at the California state Capitol with ACCM Project Manager Whitney Kear.

The month of April is officially Arts, Culture and Creativity Month in the state of California. Arts, Culture and Creativity Month, or ACCM, is a month dedicated to connection, advocacy and mobilized efforts to advance the arts across the state. The campaign, led by Californians for the Arts, features multiple opportunities to participate through trainings, storytelling, events, public action and more, culminating in a big event on April 23 at the state Capitol in Sacramento for Arts Advocacy Day.

We recently sat down with Julie Baker, Executive Director of Californians for the Arts, to get some background on the motivation for the monthlong celebration and the hope for what lies ahead.

In a few sentences, tell us about Californians for the Arts and your vision as its new Executive Director.

Californians for the Arts (CFTA) is California’s statewide arts advocacy organization. Our mission is to increase public awareness of the importance of the arts. We plan to do this by ensuring that the arts are an ongoing part of the public dialogue, and to encourage Californians to care about the arts as a critical component of their own lives, and the lives of their communities. We want arts to be accessible for every Californian. We advocate for increased public funding for arts and arts education while tracking and working on legislation that benefits artists and the creative industries.

As the first Executive Director for CFTA, my vision is for arts, culture and creativity in California to be valued, funded and recognized for its social and economic impact on our lives, our communities and our state. I want to see California heralded nationwide as the leading state of creativity with funding to match. I want to empower and encourage arts supporters to become arts advocates and to build our political “Artmy” so that arts are seen by all forms of government, both state and local, as necessary and integral to a sustainable, vibrant and healthy California.

What are the key goals of Arts, Culture, and Creativity Month (ACCM)?

ACCM was created to celebrate, inspire and recognize the impact the arts, culture and creative sectors have in California. The goal is to train people across the state to be advocates for the arts in their local communities and at the state level. In addition, we showcase Arts Impact Stories and illustrate the arts as a unique driver for social change and share data to impress that the arts and creative sectors are indeed leaders in our state’s economy. It is also about empowering arts leaders and organizations across the state to organize around a singular vision and messaging campaign. As a united voice, we are much more impactful.

You’ve been traveling the state holding local community meetings. What have you been learning from your time on the road?

My greatest takeaway has been that everyone we meet and speak with understands the need for a staffed and professional arts advocacy organization in California. Until October of this year, CFTA had been quietly working behind the scenes on a solely volunteer level, which is not sustainable to meet the need of this diverse and large state. We are pleased with the progress our efforts have achieved to increase arts funding in our state, but there is plenty of work left to be done. There is legislation to be tracked, managed and introduced that impacts our field. There is also support needed to advocate for funding and support for rural, smaller populations and communities of color as well as continued training to build our next generation of arts leaders. We want to be the voice and go-to resource for the arts and creative sectors in California. We are eager to build our capacity to support the needs of this state.

Tell us about the recently proposed ACCM resolution from the state Legislature.

SCR 33 is a Senate concurrent resolution introduced by Senator Ben Allen and co-authored by Assemblymember Kansen Chu to designate April as Arts, Culture & Creativity Month. The resolution legitimizes and recognizes the value of the arts in California. We are thrilled to have our first measure introduced, and we hope it will receive bipartisan support!