To prove that California’s Prop 28—which seeks to provide nearly $1 billion in new funding annually for arts and music education in all public schools from K-12—has become a pet cause Among music luminaries, there is no need to look any further than the industry’s most famous structure. The Capitol Tower in Hollywood, whose cylindrical shape has long been compared to a stack of records, currently has a “Yes to 28” flag flying prominently on its roof.
Universal Music Group, which owns the famous building and has donated $25,000 to back the measure, isn’t the only high-profile supporter of Prop 28, which voters will weigh on Nov. 8. Written by former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner, the proposal has been endorsed by more than 350 people and organizations, including companies like Fender Music and CAA; legendary executives such as Quincy Jones and Irving Azoff; and big name artists like Dr. Dre, will.i.am, Lil Baby and Katy Perry. Mid-October, Christina Aguilera and her fiancé Matthew Rutler (investor and founding executive of MasterClass) hosted an event at his home in support of the proposal which included performances by One Republic musicians Lady Bri, Tim Myers and Aloe Blacc.
So why did the music industry, which Prop 28 does not directly support, endorse it so strongly? As proponents say, money invested in students now will benefit the music industry in the future.
“The most important beneficiaries are the children themselves,” says Andy Mooney, CEO of Fender Music, who provided $100,000 in seed capital for the proposal and donated another million dollars to collect signatures and market the proposal. But, he adds, “the upside for companies like ours, or anyone working in California’s music and arts industry, is the long-term investment that can pay dividends beyond of my mandate.”
Currently, according to the authors of the proposal, “barely one in five public schools has a full-time arts or music teacher” and “arts and music programs have often been the first to be cut” in California public schools – a problem Prop 28 is designed to fix. The money allocated by the measure – which must be spent on arts and music education, such as teachers, supplies, arts partnerships, training and equipment – would include accountability and require schools to publish annual reports on how they spend the funds, including specific programs and how students have benefited.
The fact that Prop 28 “takes no money out of existing school funding” is important for gaining voter support, says Beutner, who retired as superintendent last year and spent his newfound free time focus on measurement. The money provided by Prop 28 would be 1% of California’s school funding budget, which currently makes up 40% of the state’s general fund. But instead of siphoning off that 1% from the school’s other needs, it increases the school’s budget from 40% to 40.4% of the state’s general fund. Based on the current year, that would be $950 million, or 1% of the state’s $95 billion school budget.
The fact that Prop 28 provides a way to diversify the creative sector is also important to many supporters. While California’s 6 million public school students would have access to the new funding proposed by the measure — which would come from the state’s general fund without raising taxes — 30% would go to schools based on their share of low-income students enrolled statewide (the remaining 70% going to schools based on their share of statewide enrollment).
Director of Human Resources and Inclusion at UMG and Co-Chair of the Taskforce for Meaningful Change Eric Hutcherson, who says this is the first proposal UMG has officially backed as a company, notes that by exposing more children to music education, the new funding will inevitably inspire future leaders in a variety of roles. in the music industry that go beyond just being an artist or producer. “What you find is that these industries have all these opportunities available,” he says.
Entertainment Veteran Tim Sextonwhich produced the Emmy-winning Live 8 benefit concert and worked with Beutner to mobilize support from artists, adds that for media companies “concerned about diversity, equity and inclusion , you need look no further than our public schools to see what the population looks like, this is what the workforce should look like.
Ideally, the proposal would also invest nearly $1 billion in California’s creative economy. According to Bloomberg, the state of California is poised to become the world’s fourth largest economy by overtaking Germany and, according to a study by the Otis College of Art and Design, almost a quarter of the economy of the state comes from entertainment. sector.
“Companies like ours, which moved to California to be at the crossroads of entertainment and technology, rely on a skilled workforce to fill the high-quality jobs we create here,” said the chairman- CEO of Universal Music Group. Sir Lucian Grainge out in April. “If passed, this initiative will secure a future workforce ready and secure California’s position as the world’s epicenter for music and the arts.”
Informal opposition to the measure argues that the increased use of general funds should be used to address other issues such as homelessness or paying off state debt, but the Official Information Guide of the Voters for California Residents – which provides arguments for and against each proposition – states that “No arguments against Proposition 28 have been submitted.”
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The impact of Prop 28 could be felt far beyond California. If the initiative is successful this election cycle, supporters say they would be interested in bringing customized versions of Proposition 28 to other states.
“The money we’ve spent to support this initiative is one of the best investments the company has ever made for the future,” says Mooney. “We can replicate this investment in other states where music and art are also very important. Think Tennessee or Florida with Miami, which is the heart of Latin music in the United States these days. There are lots of opportunities.