BALLOT MEASURE TO INCREASE ARTS AND MUSIC EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOL GAINS MOMENTUM FROM FUNDERS AND GROWING COALITION

Funders Include NBCUniversal, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, and the Ballmer Group; Effort to Gather Signatures for Ballot Qualification is Set to Begin in Early 2022

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Los Angeles, CA, Dec. 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Californians for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools today announced new support for the measure which would dramatically increase funding in arts and music education for students in Pre-K-12 public schools.

Funders from across California’s creative economy are joining educators, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs in supporting the 2022 ballot measure to increase funding for arts and music education in public Pre-K-12 schools. Early funders include businesses Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and NBCUniversal as well committed individuals and public education advocates including Austin Beutner (founder and Chairman of Vision To Learn and proponent of the initiative), Connie and Steve Ballmer (former Microsoft CEO & owner of the LA Clippers), Frank Baxter (former Chairman of Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools), Chris Meledandri (founder & CEO, ILLUMINATION), and entrepreneur Sky Dayton (founder of EarthLink and Boingo).

The effort to gather signatures and put the initiative on the ballot is gaining momentum as Guitar Center and the Forum have agreed to support signature gathering efforts on their premises. “As the largest retailer of musical instruments in California we have seen firsthand the transformative power of music education,” said Ron Japinga, CEO & President, Guitar Center. “We know that learning to make music is one of the most gratifying creative expressions possible. For children, music education builds social connection and cultural and emotional expression in a way that is important for personal development. We are thrilled to support this ballot measure which stands to foster the next generation of musicians and artists in the entertainment capital of the world, California. That is why all of our 43 stores in California will be signature gathering sites so we can get this important measure qualified for the ballot.”

“The talent who take the stage at this iconic venue were inspired by the educators and community members who pour their souls into their students and bring to life learning through the arts each and every day,” said Geni Lincoln, Forum General Manager and SVP of Live Events. “The Forum is honored to play a role in this initiative as we strive to cultivate future generations of artists.”

Education leaders are also expressing their clear support for this measure. The California Music Educators Association (CMEA) has endorsed the measure and is actively engaging in the campaign’s committee to help ensure success of the ballot measure. The California Educational Theatre Association (CETA), which represents nearly 4,000 Theatre Educators across California, is supporting the initiative. The measure also has support from the California Dance Education Association (CDEA) and P.S. ARTS.

“The California Music Educators Association (CMEA) is comprised of nearly 1,500 music teachers in public schools across California,” said Armalyn De La O, President of the CMEA. “As music teachers, we see every day how arts and music education can benefit our students. It helps improve their attendance, develops literacy, and contributes to overall student and child well-being. Unfortunately, funding for this important aspect of education has lagged in California’s public schools. CMEA strongly supports the Arts and Music in Schools measure because it will benefit every child in every public school across California, with increased funding for schools serving low-income communities.”

“The California Educational Theatre Association (CETA) represents nearly 4,000 Theatre Educators across California. As theatre educators we see every day how Arts and Music education can benefit our students and we know that the arts are essential to the development of the whole student,” said Michael Despars, President of California Educational Theatre Association. “Arts Education helps to close the achievement gap, develops literacy, improves self-esteem, promotes educational risk-taking, improves attendance, and more importantly develops 21st century skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. Furthermore, we know that Social and Emotional learning is an essential part of educating students and access to comprehensive arts curriculum is oftentimes the only way students are able to receive this support.”

“The California Dance Education Association (CDEA) is a non-profit organization that provides responsive, inclusive, multi-dimensional support to dance educators and dance artists in California,” said CDEA Co-Presidents, Cherie Hill and Myshia LeBoss. “CDEA is committed to working with other arts education organizations, including CMEA, CETA, CAEA, and the CDEA board, to share this critical measure with our members and the larger community. We look forward to this opportunity to increase arts education for students throughout California.”

“P.S. ARTS has provided comprehensive arts education to California public schools for over 30 years,” said Laura Fox, Chair, P.S. ARTS. “We see the Arts & Music in Schools – Funding Guarantee and Accountability Act as perfectly aligned with our mission. We believe the arts are an excellent means of advancing equity and opportunity for students. The ballot measure recognizes the importance of investing in systemically under-resourced schools and takes a huge step toward ensuring that students who have the least access to high-quality classes in the arts are given the education they have been denied. The P.S. ARTS student motto is, ‘We have the freedom to imagine and power to create’ because we believe arts education gives children the skills and confidence to believe deeply in their own creative power. This measure is an excellent start to giving children the tools and the agency to create a better world for themselves and future generations.”

Leading cultural organizations including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Oakland Museum of California, the Los Angeles Urban League and La Plaza de Cultura y Artes have also joined the coalition in support of the effort.

“California is known as fertile ground for creativity, innovation, and exploration. But funding for the arts in public schools has never been more depleted or more necessary.  Now is the time to plant the seeds for a much brighter, more colorful, artistic, and inspiring future for our children,” said Neal Benezra, Director, SFMOMA.

“Art and music are the heart and soul of California. The arts fuel our state’s innovation, they feed the well-being of our citizens, and they attract visitors from around the world. And, yet, the arts have been neglected and underfunded in our public school systems,” said Lori Fogarty, Director & CEO, Oakland Museum of California. “Now, more than ever, is the time to provide much-needed support to arts education, not only to nurture creativity in our children, but to foster their social and emotional skills, their critical thinking and curiosity, and to help them connect to one another and their communities after a time of isolation. We owe this to our kids.”

Leaders in the creative industry continue to join the coalition in support of this ballot initiative. “Our public schools are vastly improved by the expansion of Arts Education in classrooms,” said John Lithgow, Actor, Author, and Musician. “It enlivens the school experience of every young person and addresses a long list of today’s most pressing educational issues. These include social development, student morale, the hunger for learning, keeping kids in school, and paving their pathway to higher education.  Simply put, quality Arts Education expands horizons for all students. We owe it to them.”

“Art and music education are critical to the overall development of our children regardless of whether they ever become artists or musicians,” said Michael A. Lawson, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League. “The benefits of music and arts education should be available to all children, not just children of affluent families and elite schools. It is for this reason that I am supporting the proposed CA ballot measure that will bring much needed funding for arts and music education in every PreK-12 public school in California.”

“Maintaining our state’s role as the creative and entertainment capital of the world begins in our local schools,” said John Echeveste, CEO of La Plaza. “The initiative provides a sorely-needed shot in the arm for increased arts and music education funding to our schools and arts organizations without raising taxes. I am proud to support the initiative and urge all Californians who enjoy the arts to support it too.”

Austin Beutner, the proponent of the ballot initiative, submitted the final, revised language of the measure on December 6, 2021. The Title and Summary for the ballot measure should be provided by the California Attorney General no later than January 5, 2022, after which time Californians for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools will begin gathering signatures.

“We used the time provided under law to revise the language of the ballot measure to include feedback from a variety of stakeholders, including teachers along with arts and community organizations,” Beutner added. “I’m delighted to see the outpouring of support for this effort and the budding grassroots support for making sure all children have access to Arts and Music Education in public schools.”

As the Legislative Analyst’s Office noted in its recent analysis, the measure is expected to provide between $800 million and $1 billion in dedicated funds for arts education in public schools each year.  The LAO further noted the measure requires these funds to be spent primarily for arts staff, but also provides school principals discretion to determine how the funds are spent.

A recent Tulchin Research poll of likely November 2022 voters finds strong support for the ballot measure:

 

  • 76% of voters saying they support increasing funding for Arts and Music Education
  • 81% of voters support increasing Arts and Music Education funding without raising taxes

 

The measure has been carefully written to make sure the additional funds go to help students and to provide local school communities with a voice in deciding what program will best help their children.

 

  • Each local school will decide how the funds are used.
  • The funds must be used to supplement, not supplant, existing Arts programs. The language in the measure is similar to that used by the Federal Government which ensures additional dollars it provides to schools are used for additional services for students.
  • Each school must publicly share an annual report showing how the funds were used to provide additional Arts and Music Education to students and how the programs align with state education standards.
  • No more than 1% can be used for administrative costs
  • The funds provided to schools by the measure will be subject to audit by the state of California.

 

As the Legislative Analyst’s Office noted in its recent analysis, the measure is expected to provide between $800 million and $1 billion in dedicated funds for arts education in public schools each year. The LAO further noted the measure requires these funds to be spent primarily for arts staff, but also provides school principals discretion to determine how the funds are spent within those guidelines.