How Much is the Funding Picture Improving for Los Angeles Arts Groups?

We recently posted about how the Los Angeles County Arts Commission gives $4.5 million in grants to a couple hundred local artists, arts organizations, and schools each year. Well, local arts just got another boost in Los Angeles, and three specific giving categories have emerged as priorities.

Related: How to Snag a Grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission

The California Arts Council recently issued a round of grants under the heading of “Local Impact.” The whole point of these grants is to aid small arts organizations work in poor and rural communities that lack cultural resources. “Creative California Communities” and “Artists in Schools” are the other two recent grantmaking focuses. Economic development in key neighborhoods, community cohesiveness, and young student engagement are the aspects of the arts that are really capturing funders’ attention these days.

The California Arts Council is a state agency with members appointed by the governor and state legislature. It isn’t Los Angeles-specific, but it sure seems like a lot of grant funds are coming this way lately. 

Overall, grantmaking for the arts is on the rise in Los Angeles, which is amazing news for local arts nonprofits. The council just committed $3.8 million for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, a full million dollars more than last year. Though it’s been an uphill battle since arts funding declined in the early 2000s, at least it’s moving in the right direction.

Through it all, it seems that the types of grantmaking remain pretty consistent. Los Angeles residents want to see the arts break away from the elitist stigma and reach poor communities, underdeveloped neighborhoods, and low-income students. And it’s doubtful that these art priorities will dramatically shift elsewhere anytime soon. Again, we’re using the California Arts Council as a model here. 

However, changes are afoot at the California Arts Council, and new grant programs are on the way. Changes in the California state budget have enabled the council to expand funding, making $8.3 million the new minimum for state arts funding.

Although California is still low on arts funding compared to other states, Los Angeles is still making the best of it. Recent local grantees include Piece by Piece, an arts education group that got $73,000, and the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, which got $50,000 for a monthly performance series. Several other Los Angeles grants fell in the $10,000 to $45,000 range.

According to the LA Times, Caitlin Fitzwater, the arts council’s spokeswoman, said the new programs under consideration are residencies in which artists work with specific communities, and support for fledgling arts nonprofits that are in their second or third years. These were staples of council grantmaking before funding was cut in the early 2000s, but the council thinks they’re strategies worth revisiting again now that a little more cash is flowing.

To learn more about California Arts Council grantmaking, check out the funder’s programs page. Public media, arts for the disabled, juvenile justice, professional development, and military veterans also play a regular role in council funding. Deadlines and staff contacts vary by program area.