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New state measure would allocate nearly $1 billion towards arts education

Sol Treasures displays art from campers in their painting room.
Gabriela Fernandez
Sol Treasures' summer arts camp in South Monterey County.

With election day approaching next week, California voters will be considering Proposition 28, a measure that allocates extra funds toward arts education.

Right now, about 40% of the state’s general fund goes towards education. This measure will allocate an extra 1% from the general fund toward arts education, but will not raise taxes.

So far no one is officially opposing the measure, but critics said it could force cuts to other important state programs.

Some local California arts organizations said if the measure does not pass, the quality of art programs will decline for communities that need it most.

Jackie Atchison is the Executive Director of the Arts Council for Monterey County. The goal of her agency is to bring art programs to communities who have historically had little access to it.

“We saw, that day in the pandemic, [where] the first thing people did was go out on their balconies and sing and dance and build community, you know. So it's healing — we all need it,” Atchison said.

California law requires the arts like, dance, music, theater, and visual arts to be taught from Kindergarten through high school. According to a study conducted by SRI Education, only 11% of schools in California are meeting that requirement.

“It's really important that people understand that arts education is mandated by the state. It's a law, and all schools must be providing it,” Atchison said.

Based on the SRI Education study, only 11% of rural high schools offer all four art programs, and inadequate funding is the most significant barrier for low-income communities to access arts education.

The state estimated Proposition 28 would dedicate about $1 billion from the general fund towards art programs in California schools.

“It's $900 million a year doesn't increase anyone's taxes that comes from the general fund. Everybody needs art,” Atchison said.

If Proposition 28 is passed, school districts would be required to allocate 80% of their new funding on hiring arts and music teachers, and 20% for training and materials.

Local details on voting are at slovote.com.

Gabriela Fernandez came to KCBX in May of 2022 as a general assignment reporter, and became news director in December of 2023. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an associate producer on the TahoeLand podcast. When she's not writing or editing news stories, she loves to travel, play tennis and take her 140-lbs dog, Atlas, on long walks by the coast.
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