Despite the amount of money California creatives produce for state and nation economies, California isn't correctly educating the next generation of creators. How can California exist as a famously creative hub for the arts if the state has all but discontinued arts funding?
California is notoriously behind other states in this regard, with only 39 percent of high school and middle school students participating in the arts. To lend some perspective, Ohio has an impressive 75 percent participation rate, New Jersey and Wisconsin both have 70 percent. We must reprioritize the arts in our state.
In California, seven of the ten occupations with the highest LQ are creative, which stands as proof that our state has a higher concentration of creative professions than the nation as a whole. These industries include architecture, creative goods and products, entertainment and digital media, fashion, beauty, and fine and performing art — and we must prepare the next generation for these creative jobs. The arts motivate children to not only foster creativity in everything they do, but also more reliably problem-solve, communicate, and make crucial decisions. These skills are absolutely vital to development.
Lack of education surrounding California’s arts education is an enormous issue — but we now have both the knowledge and the data to make a change. With enough public support, we can force policy makers to reprioritize arts funding for the state’s children and watch the next generation of children receive a complete education.
While California has diversified over the last decade, Los Angeles County, 44 percent of creative workforce hires are white, followed by 33 percent Hispanic, and 14.7 percent Asians. That means less than 10 percent of workers in the creative industry are Black. Arts education is known to fail those who are the most marginalized, including black students, and students who either live in rural areas or attend charter schools. For these reasons, we desperately need to prioritize arts education for these students, ensuring that California and the creative workforce become as inclusive and accessible as possible.
Want to help? Talk about California’s need for arts funding on social media, ask the principal or superintendent at your local school to add an arts discipline with a credentialed teacher for middle and high schoolers, and join an Arts Now group. Arts Now groups formed through the California Alliance for Arts Education receive expert strategy assistance, leadership development, and tools to help communicate needs in specific districts.