California Arts Council

State of California

Arts License Plates installed on the first business fleet in California!
A Sacramento landscaping company is the first to take advantage of the fact that Arts Plate fees may be considered charitable contributions for tax purposes


Published: 05-20-2010

Burnie Lenau knows arts -- or at least the California Arts License Plate and its importance for arts funding. Burnie is the first business owner to take advantage of the fact that Arts Plate fees may be considered charitable contributions to the California Arts Council. "It's an opportunity to give back, and it's an opportunity to help kids, the state and businesses," Burnie told the Sacramento Bee. "How do you beat that?"

Burnie & STC Kids PhotoThe owner of Lawnman Landscaping in Sacramento put the first two plates on his vehicles on Monday, May 17, 2010. Dozens of children of various ages from Sacramento Theatre Company's children's programs joined Burnie as he put the new plates on a Lawnman Landscaping utility pick-up truck and van. (Sacramento Theatre Company is an Artists in Schools grantee.) SEE ARTICLE

The Arts License Plate funds and promotion of the plate to California drivers are seen as key to keeping arts programs alive in the state. California is currently the lowest in per capita funding in the arts nationwide, at just about 12 cents per person. And given the state's fiscal crisis, obtaining General Fund monies seems next to impossible any time soon. 

The members of the California Arts Council see the Arts Plate as the best resource for state arts funding in California, and have initiated a lofty goal: sell one million plates, which would provide $40 million for the arts in California. Promoting the Arts Plate became easier last November when the Franchise Tax Board issues a letter clarifying a key issue: Arts Plate fees may be considered charitable contributions to the California Arts Council under IRS regulations.

Bob Welton, a Metro Chamber member services executive who told Lenau about the Arts License Plate program, predicted to the Bee that the Arts License Plate program will become more and more popular with businesses as time goes on.

"It's even more critical for the business community to step up, because arts funding is flat-out not available," Welton said in the article. "Whether you're supporting the arts or helping at-risk kids, it makes the quality of life for everyone better."

Are you a business owner interested in putting California Arts License Plates on your fleet? Contact Mary Beth Barber at mbarber@cac.ca.gov or 916-322-6588 for more information.




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