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Arts Plate Kick-off Event Drives Californians to Bring Back the Arts and Arts Education
Goal of $40 million for the Arts is a "serious possibility" from the effort that brings California celebrities into the campaign


Published: 03-23-2012

Approximately 300 people filled the courtyard at Sony Pictures Studios on March 22, 2012, to chat over appetizers, get a few snapshots taken, listen to some music, and admire the decorated double-decker bus -- all in the name of increasing arts funding in California through increased sales of the Arts License Plate. The evening marked the launch of the "Create a State" campaign for the California Arts Council, and artists and arts supporters like Maria Shriver, Debbie Allen, Frank Gehry and Cheech Marin came to support the effort.

Create a State"We are thrilled to have so many incredible 'Arts Drivers' as part of this campaign to increase arts funding in California," said California Arts Council Chair Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, speaking of the influential celebrities and entrepreneurs who have joined the outreach effort called "Create a State." Branding and promotional experts Industrial Creative, a Los Angeles-based advertising agency, created and developed the "Create a State" campaign that will promote the Million Plates Drive. The effort aims to raise $40 million for arts and arts education programs through the sale of one million Arts Plates, the iconic special license plate with the sunset and palm tree design by renowned California artist Wayne Thiebaud.

Create a StateNotable names who have signed on as Arts Drivers include (in alphabetical order): Annette Bening, Jack Black, Father Greg Boyle, Eli Broad, Vernon Davis, Placido Domingo, The Edge, Harrison Ford, David Geffen, the cast of "Glee," Macy Gray, Quincy Jones, Steve Martin, Ozomatli, Wolfgang Puck, Robert Redford, Tim Robbins, Ed Ruscha, Russell Simmons, and Alice Waters.

California businesses that recognize the importance of the arts to the creative economy are also part of the "Create the State" Arts Plate campaign. Sponsors of the event include Sony Pictures Entertainment, Ovation, and Susan Steinhauser and Daniel Greenberg. Outdoor advertising company AstraPacific donated a wrapped double-decker bus with "Create a State" artwork for the event, and will drive it around Los Angeles in the coming months. State Senator Curren Price, Chair of the Joint Committee on the Arts in the Legislature and a strong supporter of arts and arts education, spoke about the importance of the arts to California's industry and future.

Entertainment industry companies such as event sponsor Sony Pictures have been especially supportive of the "Create a State" Arts Plate effort to bring back arts funding. "Sony Pictures is dedicated to nurturing and developing the next generation of creative talent through excellence in arts and arts education," said Janice Pober, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Social Responsibility, Sony Pictures Entertainment. "We are extremely pleased to support the California Arts Council and hope tonight's event is the start to an incredibly successful campaign."

Create a StateOther businesses have also stepped up to promote the "Create a State" campaign in different ways. Clear Channel Outdoor has made an unprecedented donation of digital ad space around the state, and the "Create a State" campaign rolled out on Clear Channel's outdoor digital networks starting the week of March 19, 2012. The Million Plates Drive is being coordinated by Sean Watson of 24Connect, a California entrepreneur with an expertise in grassroots efforts and campaign coordination who has donated a significant amount of time and resources pro bono to the effort.

Create a StateAdditional businesses that have signed on to assist the effort with pro bono services include Topps Digital Services (formerly GMG Entertainment), a leading provider of prepaid digital currency products at retailers worldwide, digital and e-commerce services company that provides online functionality for unique customer solutions and whose clients include Facebook, the NFL, Atari, NBC Universal and THQ, among others. Topps Digital will help the Arts Council investigate streamlining the Arts Plate ordering process, with an eventual goal of user-friendly online ordering and bulk pre-paid voucher cards services.

"We're very honored that Topps Digital Services could contribute in some small way to such an important program for our state and society overall" said Robert Goldberg, General Manager of Topps Digital.

The plate's image, titled "Coastline," was created in 1993 by California artist Wayne Thiebaud. The California Arts Council license plate debuted in 1994 and has since raised over $25 million for California arts through sales and renewals. Currently over 60% of the California Art Council's budget comes from the Arts License Plate. The California Arts Council in turn distributes Arts Plate funds back to local communities throughout California for arts education and arts in community programs.

"The California Arts Council is eternally grateful for all the contributions from the creative and business community for their assistance in reaching our one million Arts Plates goal," said Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council. "Funding at the state level is very tight these days, and the California Arts Council would not be able to fulfill a campaign of this caliber without the assistance and pro bono efforts from our sponsors and Arts Drivers."

The California Arts Council is also a driving advocate for the increase in arts education in California schools. The latest effort, CREATE CA (Core Reforms Engaging Arts To Educate), is a broad-based statewide initiative from various leaders in education, business and the arts with the goal of examining the current state of arts education in California and broadening California's educational vision.

"California companies -- those involved in the Arts Plate campaign as well as the CREATE CA arts education efforts --  recognize the importance of the arts to spur the creative economy through arts education and arts in our local communities," continued Watson. "They know that if California is to stay on top, we need to build an entrepreneurial workforce with an emphasis on creativity and innovation -- characteristics that are built through the arts and arts education."

The upcoming CREATE CA Forum on March 30 and 31 will introduce the Joint Arts Education Task Force charged with creating the State Superintendent of Public Instruction's new education policy document, Blueprint for Creative Schools: How the Arts and Creative Education Can Transform California Classrooms. (SEE PRESS RELEASE) Tom Torlekson, the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, attended the kick off to support the Arts Plate efforts as well.

The "Create a State" Arts Plate effort comes at a time when general state funds are dwindling and state arts councils' funding is decreasing nationwide. The California Arts Council's General Fund allocation was decreased by over 90% in 2003, and the leadership at the agency looked to alternative ways of funding to continue California's long-held traditional leadership in the arts, innovation and creativity. Funds from the sales and renewals of Arts Plates are slated by law to go to California Arts Council programs and initiatives, and Arts Plate sales and renewal fees may be tax deductible for individuals and businesses.

Drivers in California can purchase standard-number plates through the DMV for $50 with a $40 renewal fee. Drivers who choose to enhance the plate with personalized letters and numbers may do so for $98 with an annual $78 renewal fee. Consumers may order plates and find out more information at www.artsplate.org.

More Resources

(Photos by Dan Steinberg/California Arts Council. From top to bottom: Cheech Marin, Frank Gehry, Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, and Sen. Curren Price. More photos available (link) for re-publication; please credit Dan Steinberg and the California Arts Council as noted above. Reporters interested in more information may contact Mary Beth Barber, Information Officer, at 916-322-6588 or mbarber@cac.ca.gov.)