The power of the arts

California’s $16.3M investment in arts and culture grants is worthy — and smart

Pictured: California Arts Council grantee transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project.

Tuesday was a great day at work.

The work that we do at the California Arts Council is always truly rewarding, prioritizing arts and culture experiences for all Californians.

But Tuesday was extra special.

That morning, we announced our grant awards for the 2017–18 fiscal year. We funded nearly 1,100 arts and culture objectives up and down the state, a total of more than $16.3 million dollars, up $1.3 million-plus from the year before. Our Council doubled their investment in essential grant programs serving system-engaged youth and emerging cultural organizations.

Making that announcement was a celebration of effort. It was the culmination of a year’s worth of passion and meticulous work from the Council, the staff, our panelists, our applicants — to communicate our support for such a wide range of meaningful work, to welcome new grantees into the fold and continue to foster the California Arts Council grantee family — it was a proud and well-earned moment for everyone involved.

Within minutes of the announcement, California Arts Council grantees flooded the Internet with tweets, posts, shares, comments, likes, and Instagrams, all expressing their appreciation. We could hardly keep up with the digital displays of gratitude. It was magical, and three days later, it still keeps coming.

This rapid, heartfelt expression of gratitude is the perfect metaphor for the heart of this whole process of grantmaking, and the purpose for the work we do here at the California Arts Council.

California believes in the power of the arts.

Every year, when the Arts Council awards funding, we do it with a complete understanding of the return on that investment.

We get what arts organizations do for their communities, how significant they are, how they change lives. We know you are the change. We cherish your devotion and your drive.

We have absolute faith that that $16.3 million is coming back to California tenfold — in the form of a more vibrant, better place to live. We are witness to it every year.

Congratulations and thank you to all of our grantees, past and present.

Anne Bown-Crawford is Director of the California Arts Council. To read the full 2017–18 grant announcement, visit