Arts & Culture Summit coming to the Capital City

“Miss Tee,” Tamaira Sandifer, the founder & CEO of Studio T Arts & Entertainment in Sacramento, participates in the 2023 CA Arts & Culture Summit in Sacramento. (Photo by Doug Cupid, courtesy California for the Arts)

By Patti Roberts

Passionate artists, arts organizations, supporters, and advocates will descend upon the capital city on April 16 and 17 to highlight why arts are essential to both local communities and the state of California.

This will be the second year that California for the Arts will hold its CA Arts & Culture Summit here in Sacramento with the intent of advocating for more support and funding for artists and their communities.

The summit will be held Tuesday, April 16 at The Sofia, followed by Arts Advocacy Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, April 17, where a rally will be held, followed by meetings with local and state elected representatives and leaders.

According to NeFesha Yisra’el, director of programs for California for the Arts, “Artists play an essential role in our economy and our health with critical contributions across a variety of social impact areas, but often are without the services and conditions they need to thrive.”

In Sacramento County, $241.7 million was generated by the arts and culture sector, supporting 4,343 jobs and $164.8 million in personal income in 2022, according to a study conducted by Americans for the Arts.

California for the Arts hopes to attract a wide cross-section of artists to the summit, and their recognition of artists includes a broad range of individuals and groups such as visual artists, painters, photographers, and sculptors, as well as those involved in music, dance, theater, opera, orchestra, spoken word, literature, and many more, said Tracy Hudak, director of field engagement for California for the Arts.

“Though it’s always been a challenge for artists and organizations to thrive, performing arts were particularly devastated by the COVID shutdowns,” Hudak said. 

According to California for the Arts, a survey shows the top issues facing individual artists are insufficient public funding, challenges in engaging or increasing patrons and customers, a lack of affordable housing, and a lack of support systems for the self-employed including health care, unemployment and retirement benefits.

For arts organizations, the survey found the challenges include insufficient public funding, rising operations costs due to inflation, a lack of grant opportunities, and efforts to engage and increase attendance, donations and funders.

According to Hudak, the benefits of the CA Arts & Culture Summit for the local arts community includes networking opportunities to connect with peers, potential collaborators, funders, and policymakers; workshops for professional development including arts management and fundraising; ways to advocate for the arts; inspiration by hearing success stories from other organizations; and ways to foster a sense of community.

The summit workshops will include discussions of arts and health, economic justice, climate change, artists on artist’s work, youth engagement, affordable housing and workspace, cultural equity, civic engagement, public art, and public policies and advocacy.

Advocacy Day will start with a 9 a.m. rally at California State Capitol Park. 

“The morning kicks off with a rally and press conference and then advocates will meet with their state representatives to talk about the power of the arts, challenges and policy solutions,” Hudak said. “We want to build relationships between attendees and their state representatives, and highlight our key legislative asks for the 2024-25 budget season.”

Tickets for the summit are $300 for nonmembers of California for the Arts and $250 for members. The organizers acknowledge that the price of the summit may be out of reach for some in the arts community. 

“In response to hearing from Sacramento artists who face cost barriers to attending the summit, we launched the Working Artists Scholarship Fund to help artists and arts workers who were not awarded scholarships to fundraise for professional development support,” Hudak said. “The demand was so great, we were only able to provide scholarships to half of the applicants, so we hope this helps with increasing access to the event.”

For more information on the Summit and Advocacy Day: CA Arts & Culture Summit.

This story is part of the Solving Sacramento journalism collaborative. Solving Sacramento is supported by funding from the James Irvine Foundation and James B. McClatchy Foundation. Our partners include California Groundbreakers, Capital Public Radio, Outword, Russian America Media, Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento News & Review, Sacramento Observer and Univision 19.

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