Comprehensive Cultural Policy
for the State of California

Commissioned by the California Arts Council, 1978

by Don Adams and Arlene Goldbard

Don't miss Arlene Goldbard's Author's Preface 1996,
for her amusing and illuminating reflections upon the circumstances
that led to this document's creation.


Appendix: Twelve Issues



This Comprehensive Cultural Policy was commissioned by the California Arts Council and written under contract to the State of California during November and December of 1978. It is based on the previous statements and activities of the Council itself, on a good deal of material concerning the policies of other public agencies, on studies and other publications in cultural policy from UNESCO and the Council of Europe, and on the experiences of communities throughout California.

Serious public policy for the culture (i.e., policy work which transcends the red herrings of "quality" versus "community" and the like) is a new phenomenon in this country. So far as we know, this policy is a first attempt by any agency of American government to adopt guidelines for action in the entire cultural field. We look forward to seeing California's cultural policy evolve as the lessons of cultural development are learned, and trust that many other public cultural agencies will join in the creation and implementation of policy for the future.

One crucial topic in current cultural politics isn't mentioned much in this document -- money. Suffice it say that the goals of cultural development can be immeasurably furthered by subsidy, but subsidy unguided by policy is nothing more than empty patronage. We hope that this policy and the programs designed to implement it will help the Legislature to recognize the importance of supporting cultural development with adequate funds, and also help the State to spend those funds wisely in the service of cultural development.

The constraints of this project have permitted to public process to precede the drafting of this document. Yet, it is our strongest conviction that public policy should be created with the active participation of the public. We hope the insistent emphasis on participatory cultural democracy which pervades this policy will help to make us the last people who ever had to consider the components of public policy in the isolation of an office instead of the give-and-take atmosphere of a town meeting.

We are grateful to the CAC for giving us the opportunity to work on this fascinating and (we hope) ground-breaking project, and to the people of California for providing the constant inspiration of the unending interest and vitality of our state's many cultures.

-- Arlene Goldbard and Don Adams
30 December 1978 -- San Francisco, California

General Perspectives

In the body of this policy we have used a number of terms and phrases which serve as a kind of shorthand for the various aspects of cultural development. To the extent that the principles of cultural development are still evolving, language must also evolve to accommodate discussion of these principles.

We take the term culture to have its standard anthropological definition: the sum of the arts, institutions, and other products of human work and thought which characterize a given population. This definition includes

Observation inevitably leads one to a generous definition of this kind; to pretend that California's culture consists only of the practice and appreciation of several highly-refined art forms is to deny the evidence of our experience.

Ours is a pluralistic society, with many coexisting subcultures and publics. Their interaction forms the culture of the whole. In truth, California has no single culture, but many subcultures; no single public, but many publics whose needs and wishes must be heeded. The State should not value or promote one of these subcultures above the others. For this reason, it is important to stress that this policy is not aimed at the democratization of high culture -- a plan of action based on the belief, common in public cultural agencies, that cultural development proceeds from the improved distribution of the experiences and products of high culture. Rather, it aims at cultural democracy -- the recognition of each person's and each community's right to culture and to define and express that culture, and of each culture's equality with other subcultures within the society.

A policy of cultural democracy has as its main goal the development of a society of autonomous and cooperative individuals, a society which values participation and activity -- in all subcultures -- and seeks to overcome passivity and stasis. The State's activity in cultural development must, in turn, promote these values above all others.

With these aims in mind, this cultural policy can be seen as recommending and defining a policy of animation (from the French animation socio-culturel). Briefly, animation helps members of a community to find and fulfill active roles as participants in a cultural democracy. An animateur is someone whose work is to aid people to associate their individual development with the development of their communities, and to mobilize their energies for participation in furthering that development.

Typically, an animateur is an artist who places a range of skills at the service of a community. For example, let us consider a sculptor who lives and works in a neighborhood for several years. Some months of the sculptor's time are devoted to helping a group of parents and children who want to build a playground. The animateur aids them in conceptualizing their ideas, dealing with the local authorities, finding space and materials, designing and planning structures that please them and will last, and organizing and accomplishing the actual construction. The animateur's artistic skills and community organizing, planning, and facilitating skills are equally useful to the people with whom he or she works; every aspect of the project helps to promote participation, cooperation, and self-confidence in the community.{1}

All of the trends and conditions which point to the need for a program of cultural development anywhere are present in California -- sometimes in the extreme. We have an enormous and incredibly diverse population; last year it grew by 407,000, including 233,000 immigrants. The state encompasses every type of terrain, every manner of community and all kinds of commercial activity. New development, necessary to accommodate the increasing population, has proceeded hastily and without much planning.

This document is not the place for a thorough analysis of the political and economic factors affecting the culture. For the moment, it's sufficient to say that economic and political developments affecting the society as a whole take a special toll in the realm of cultural institutions and activities. (For a more detailed analysis of recent effects of these phenomena on cultural activity, see our recent NAPNOC Reports: California Community Arts under Proposition 13.)

In much the same way, the problems posed by the growing amount of leisure time demand complete analysis not possible here. Much of our leisure is occupied by the passive consumption of the products of the huge centralized media and entertainment industries, instead of being taken up with participation in the cultural and other activities of the community. We hope this cultural policy will offer a useful tool in beginning to address the unmet cultural needs created by increased leisure.

These social problems are clearly exacerbated by a lack of planning. Just as we have begun to learn to consider and plan for the effects of development on the environment, we must plan for its cultural effects as well. All such planning must promote the values of pluralism, participation and activity, and resist any attempts to impose stasis on the culture by the State, the marketplace, or any particular group within the society.

The balance of this document is in three parts. The first comprises a series of policy statements intended to guide the State's efforts in the whole field of cultural development. The primary goal contained in this section, fostering cultural democracy through participation, encompasses all of the sub-goals which follow. This entire policy may be seen as an extension of the idea of participation.

The next section is a discussion of the decentralization of cultural decision-making and responsibility. In keeping with the goal of cultural democracy, the chief method of cultural development must be the return of authority to the components of the society. This section also includes a series of recommendations on the implementation of a policy of decentralization.

The third and final section is a compendium of discussions of twelve questions about its own role and programs which the CAC has asked us to consider. In each case, we have sought to define the issue or problem under consideration, discuss its relation to policy, and offer recommendations for action. These twelve questions have presented us with considerable frustration, because they share no single level of importance or detail among themselves and with the balance of this policy. For example, the question of artist residency programs is posed quite separately from other questions about support for the work of artists; we are asked to make specific recommendations on the CAC's relation to tourism, but not to marketing or other aspects of economic development; and so on.

We urge the Council to bear in mind the fact that all of its activity, in the form of technical assistance, advocacy, direct support, or research, whether covered by these twelve topics or not, must be evaluated for its effectiveness in achieving the goals of cultural development presented in the following two sections of this document. Without this measure of effectiveness, no program or activity is truly successful.

The Goals and Principles of Cultural Development

The overall goal of this policy is to develop cultural democracy, based on public participation in the cultural activity of a pluralistic society.

Accomplishing this goal demands the implementation of a number of sub-goals and principles, each of which must in turn be evaluated in light of its role in furthering this primary goal. All activities of the state, regardless of their nature or scale, must be oriented toward this goal of cultural development.

The Removal of Obstacles to Cultural Participation

No person should be deprived of the right to participate in cultural activity due to social, economic, or physical barriers.

Cultural Pluralism

Public cultural offerings should be responsive to the needs and interests of the entire society.

Distribution of Activity

Cultural activities must be made available to residents of communities throughout California, and to all parts of each community.

Preservation and New Creation

Cultural development programs must balance support for the preservation of cultural heritage and the continuing creation and production of new work.

New Means

New measures should be developed which encourage broader and more active cultural participation.

Planning for Cultural Development

The consideration of cultural development should be integrated into planning for all areas of public activity.


Cultural education programs should focus on developing interest and ability to function as active participants in community cultural activity.


Information concerning the full range of community cultural activity should be made freely available and accessible to all.

The Means of Cultural Development

The first section of this policy offers recommendations for the goals and principles of cultural development; this section offers guidance as to the means: decentralization.

The idea of decentralization is key to any policy for cultural development based on democratic principles. Decentralization means the distribution of authority and responsibility to the components of the whole -- to the regions, counties, towns and individual citizens of California. Only a decentralized system of planning and decision-making can lead to cultural programs that respond fully to the particular needs of each part of this diverse state.

Implementing the CAC's policy of cultural democracy demands the effective decentralization of the State's authority and responsibility in this area, for the following reasons:

The Problems and Principles of Decentralization

The reasons lead to an inescapable conclusion: Decentralization of authority and responsibility should be the fundamental principle informing the design of all measures of cultural development.

The decentralization of authority requires the achievement of a delicate balance: reconciling the need for public participation with the requirements of public accountability while safeguarding and promoting the expression and activities of each subculture. The inherent difficulty in maintaining this balance has proved an overwhelming obstacle to successful decentralization in most areas of government work. Central government's reluctance to relinquish control of program goals or methods may preclude meaningful consideration of local objectives and priorities. Or local leaders may have lost touch with community needs and priorities, and themselves fear involving the public in decision-making.

In the field of cultural development, these difficulties must be confronted and overcome; an effective decentralized program of cultural development is essential to the realization of California's cultural goals.

Decentralization must function as the instrument of the policy of cultural democracy. While taking care to avoid the creation of arbitrary standards which erode local control and impede new development, the State must ensure that local authorities recognize each person's right to participate in a pluralistic culture, and that they use public resources to encourage broader awareness and participation in community cultural activity.

Because we have so little practical experience with the decentralization of authority, and because the cultural needs of California's communities vary so widely, it's impossible to outline a "right" way to decentralize. The State must experiment with various approaches to decentralization of cultural program development. In all cases, the CAC's methods of decentralization must be consistent with three broad principles, and must be followed up and evaluated in light of these principles.

  1. Decentralization efforts must themselves work to strengthen cultural democracy. All measures of decentralization must work to broaden the involvement of the public in decision-making and to insure that overall, programs are addressed equally to the interests of all community members. The agencies and organizations to which authority is decentralized must themselves develop methods of operation that are consistent with this aim, as the centralization of local authority in cultural planning discourages development in the same way as the centralization of the state.

  2. All methods of decentralization must recognize and develop existing community institutions and networks. Where community institutions which command respect and participation already exist, to attempt to create whole new programs or organizations to fulfill the same purposes only serves to fragment efforts and waste resources. Decentralization schemes should recognize and build on existing community institutions and social structures, taking care to see that elements of the community which have not previously been involved in these social structures are also provided for through decentralization plans.

  3. All measures of decentralization must encourage exchange and cooperation among the various component areas. Just as decentralization should strengthen the internal democracy of communities, the State's decentralization measures must provide for sharing and exchange among various communities, cultural groups, and individuals. California's culture is a showcase of the richness and variety which develop from the intermingling of influences and exchange of ideas. The State should take deliberate action to encourage such activities.

The Role of the State

Bearing in mind these principles, the State should identify, with the participation of the public, those activities which are best left to central authorities in a decentralized system, and should then proceed to divest itself of inappropriate activities through decentralization. Discovering effective methods of decentralizing certain functions will require experimentation with various models and constant collaboration with other agencies and levels of government, private organizations, experts in various areas of cultural concern, and the general public. The role of the CAC must be examined and evaluated as it develops over time; but the general principles of decentralization do offer some definition of the State's role in any decentralized system.

The State should serve as the coordinating force within the decentralized statewide network of cultural development programs. The State should facilitate exchange among local agencies and organizations within and between various geographic areas of California, and among cultural groups and individuals involved in similar types of work statewide. In this capacity, the State should provide the means for researching, developing, and exchanging ideas which can upgrade the quality of cultural development work in California. Exchange should be encouraged not only within California, but with groups and individuals working in other parts of the United States and the world as well.

The State should coordinate the provision of technical assistance and information to communities statewide. The central authorities, with access to each of the components of a decentralized system, are ideally suited to the coordination of information and assistance on technical matters related to cultural development and support, and to coordination of efforts to upgrade the cultural planning and programming practices of local agencies. The technical assistance and information functions of the State should support those of local, regional, and statewide associations and agencies.

The State should act as advocate for cultural development within the programs of other government agencies, in the activities of legislative bodies, and in the private sector. The CAC, having parity with other State agencies, must take primary responsibility for assuring that other official state structures and programs are supportive of the principles and goals of cultural development. The Council should encourage collaboration between other State agencies and cultural interests throughout the state in exploring legislation, new programs, and policies that can better serve California's cultural needs. The State should also build cooperative working relationships with agencies of the Federal government, including the National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities, in order to represent the state's interest in cultural development support through Federal programs, regulations, and policies.

The State should encourage broader and more effective private support for cultural activity as well. Legislation favorable to private giving which furthers the goals of cultural development should be investigated. The State should encourage more extensive dialogue between private-sector funders and cultural leaders throughout California in order to promote better understanding and stimulate cooperative effort for cultural development.

The State should provide subsidy for local experimentation with cultural programming and problem-solving, and for partial support of organizations whose activities serve the goals of cultural development. Until cultural development work is truly decentralized to the local level, local authorities will probably not provide the bulk of public support needed for cultural activity in their communities. Subsidy for cultural activity will continue to be needed as the income-earning potential of community cultural groups continues to lag behind costs. Subsidies will in all likelihood continue to issue from a variety of public and private sources, varying according to the form of activity, local economic conditions, and other factors.

The State's financial support for cultural development programs is essential for the successful implementation of cultural goals. State funds must be distributed in a manner consistent with the principles of decentralization; subsidy is a tool of policy.

Within operating guidelines that reflect its goals for cultural development, the State must encourage and support the largest possible number of experimental models for local cultural development and support.

In developing procedures for the distribution of State funds for local cultural projects, the State should collaborate with local authorities, private agencies, and the general public to develop effective methods of planning and decision-making which allow maximal local discretion in developing means of using and distributing state-originated grant funds.

In working to develop these methods, the State should initiate and support research into various models for decentralization, both in theory and practice, here and abroad. The State should identify and encourage consideration of the broadest possible range of potential planning and decision-making models as a stimulus to experimentation at the local level. Differentiation among the means employed in various regions and localities should be encouraged, inasmuch as this is required for effective local action. The State should provide for mutual exchange and evaluation among the agencies and organizations involved throughout the decentralization process, and should carry out the process in a manner consistent with the State's goal of public participation.

Appendix: Twelve Issues

In this section, we discuss the role of the California Arts Council in each of a dozen specific issue areas identified by the CAC at the outset of this project. In each we discuss the significant of the issue relative to the cultural goals and principles outlined in the first section, and to the means of decentralization outlined in the second.

We must hasten to point out that complete discussion of the nature of public support in any of these issue areas is both impossible and inappropriate at this time. More refined statements of priority must be composed, evaluated, and revised by each of the decentralized entities which will be involved in defining priorities for funding and collaborating with the State in the development of policy in the future, utilizing the participation of a broad public.

The issue discussions which follow, then, are meant to demonstrate the way that the goals and principles outlined in the policy itself can be used to assess the State's stand on various specific questions. They are not meant as lasting or absolute recommendations of principle to be adopted as permanent policy.

(1) The role of the California Arts Council in promoting or conducting artist residencies in education programs in California;
(2) The role of the California Arts Council in promoting or conducting artist residency programs in other institutions (health and welfare agencies, hospitals, penal institutions, etc.);

"Artist residencies" can include not only programs like the CAC's Artists in Residence in Schools and/or Community Organizations (AIS/C) and Artists in Social Institutions (AISI) programs, in which individual artists work part-time as teachers or workshop leaders and project supervisors in education and other institutions, but also programs in which individuals or groups of artists work with whole communities or neighborhoods as animateurs. Animateurs are community workers who place their skills at the service of a community in order to help community members, through their participation in various cultural projects, take a more active role in the life of their community (see discussion of animation in General Perspectives section).

There are some significant differences between the residency programs sponsored by the CAC and the animationmodel. Animateurs tend to work full-time with communities; their own artwork is synonymous with their community work. For this reason, animateurs tend to be artists whose method of working is collaborative by definition: performers, muralists, large-scale sculptors and the like. The AIS/C model is generally for artists who devote a portion of their time to teaching or working with groups, and use the income from that work to support their individual work.

As the illustration of animation provided in the General Perspectives section of this document points out, the animateur is someone who places not only arts-related skills, but also scrounging, planning, community organizing, negotiating and other non-arts skills as the service of a community. The animation model definitely de-emphasizes the role of the artist as an isolated specialist, teaching people what they ought to know. Instead, animateurs are facilitators with special creative skills, who help people to learn what they want to know, and work together as they wish. This distinction bears emphasis, because it calls into question the purpose of residency programs: are they intended primarily to help artists support their artwork by doing community service, or to help community members learn, grow, and cooperate through participation in cultural projects?

The CAC has created its own residency programs out of the desire to find meaningful and constructive employment for artists, a worthwhile goal mandated by the Council's enabling legislation. Because of the way these residency programs developed, they have been administered centrally, from Sacramento, and artist-participants have been chosen centrally as well. In each case, the prospective resident artist finds a sponsoring institution, arranges and contracts with them for a partial stipend for a fixed period of work, and applies to the CAC for the balance of the stipend. The negotiation which precedes application to the CAC takes place between the administration of the sponsoring institution and the individual artist. Once an award is made, the artist is considered an independent contractor, under contact to both the CAC and the sponsoring agency.

This process virtually precludes the kind of contact between animateur and community necessary to build the spirit of cooperation, trust, and continuing commitment basic to the principles of animation; the community in which the resident artist works has no opportunity to influence the choice made by administrators with respect to the kinds of arts skills or community development skills the resident can offer; and the CAC, from its position in Sacramento, has no way to ascertain the particular needs of the community in which a resident artist is placed.

Moreover, the AIS/C and AISI programs have required only that prospective resident artists be "professional" according to a simple definition. There have been no formal requirements for training or experience in community settings, or for organizational skills of any kind. This has all too often meant the placement in residency of an artist who is talented and well-meaning but completely at sea in relation to the needs, dynamics, and cultural resources of the community or institutional setting. Such a resident artist is simply not qualified to help strengthen the cultural democracy of the community. Rather, the residency is likely to have little more impact than any other program which imports an expert to "bring art to the people."


(3) The advisability of using the California Arts Council to develop a separate statewide foundation for support of the arts in California (a California Arts Foundation -- similar to foundations established in eleven other states);

A dozen state arts agencies in other parts of the country have established "parallel" or "associated" foundations in order to deal with administrative difficulties. These foundations were created for one or more of a variety of reasons:

  1. to facilitate the timely disbursement of funds, where State bureaucracies proved too slow or otherwise difficult;
  2. to allow the State arts agency to undertake types of projects (such as aid to individual artists) that were not included in the agency's own enabling legislation;
  3. to enable the hiring of staff where additions to regular agency staff have been blocked; and
  4. to raise funds from non-state sources to support arts programs.

Some of the problems which stimulated the formation of parallel foundations in other states are similar to those of the California Arts Council, while others are not.

The CAC's enabling legislation gives the Council broad authority and responsibility. Unlike other states, where the requirement to work only with certain types of organizations precludes, for example, direct support of individual projects, the CAC's enabling legislation permits work with any group or individual deemed appropriate, according to its mandated goals. This, then, is not a problem which requires the establishment of a parallel foundation in California.

The other three motivations for creating a parallel foundation have some relevance to the CAC.

The Council's difficulty in facilitating the timely payment of grant funds has caused grantees a good deal of hardship. In the discussion of decentralization, the importance of decentralizing administrative authority and responsibility was recommended. This is meant to apply toll of the CAC's programs, and is recommended in part because of the practical difficulty of administering community-based programs from a central place -- particularly in so large a state as California.

Likewise, the Council has had difficulty in dealing with the personnel requirements of the State. The recent freeze on State hiring is the most current example; but the creation of new positions has been troublesome since the CAC's inception. The CAC's exempt positions, provided for in the enabling legislation, seem too numerous to legislative and personnel analysts; the location and hiring of qualified persons familiar with cultural development and support has been problematic.

In neither case, however, does it seem that a parallel foundation would be helpful. While the maintenance of foundation accounts free from the control of Contracted Fiscal Services might expedite payments, the centralization of these accounts in Sacramento would still remove authority from the local level. If the Council intends to remove authority for day-to-fay administration of payments to some source outside the State, that source should be local authorities, in keeping with the principles of decentralization.

The Council should exercise its authority to create and approve its own regulations and establish a system based on the concept of "grants" rather than "contracts for services." The "contract" status of the CAC's grants to date has meant that payment of State funds must follow the expenditure of funds by the grantee (actually, the contractor), a procedure which may help prevent mismanagement of funds in major construction projects, but which has also damaged the credit ratings of many CAC grantees.

In the matter of personnel, the attitude of state control agencies in regard to the CAC's use of a nonprofit organization as a way around the civil service system is well known to anyone familiar with Cultural News & Services, Inc. (CNS), a now-defunct corporation formerly supported by CAC funds. CNS was seen as a circumvention of the civil service system and was therefore cut off from CAC-appropriated support. The use of conventional channels for hiring personnel is advisable.

The last area of potential activity on the part of a parallel foundation is perhaps the most intriguing: raising funds from private sector and other non-State sources for the support of cultural programs. Particularly since the passage of Proposition 13, there has been a great deal of discussion of the importance of raising private sector funds. Such funds could conceivably be used to complement State-appropriated funds in the financing of CAC programs, or could be sub-granted through CAC grants programs. Fundraising from non-State sources is permitted by the CAC's current enabling legislation, so the establishment of a parallel foundation for this purpose would be unnecessary. But whether accomplished through a foundation or directly through the CAC, this practice may be hazardous. It would mean competition with other arts agencies and organizations in the effort to increase private sector support for their own programs and organizational needs; in raising funds itself, the CAC could be seen as attempting to obtain the funds needed by those groups which must rely on private sector sources. The State's influence on the direction of cultural development would be further consolidated, in opposition to the idea of decentralization.


The CAC should not create a parallel nonprofit foundation at this time. Instead, the Council should:

(4) The role of the California Arts Council in providing technical assistance to arts organizations with small budgets;

In the last few years of fast-multiplying arts organizations, "technical assistance" has become a code-word answer to the problem of offering help to many groups without overtaxing a limited State arts budget. Popular logic has it that a lot of untapped money might be available to cultural groups -- from private businesses, from non-arts government agencies, and from increased earned income -- and that better management, fundraising, planning and the like will unlock the vault. Seen in this way, helping to upgrade the management abilities of small groups is the next best thing to direct subsidy: a treasure map, if not the treasure itself. With cutbacks in State and municipal arts budgets, technical assistance (t.a.) has become even more attractive as an inexpensive way to help cultural groups.

While unhappy arts groups often characterize t.a. as "everything but money," a workable definition is somewhat narrower. T.A. focuses on providing information, through consultation with experts or through publications, workshops, and the like. It includes assistance with the law, management, fundraising, planning, publicity, or taxes; or with non-administrative problems like sound or lighting systems, preparing a wall to take a mural, or planning a community meeting. Technical assistance is providing help with the skills needed to carry forward work, implying an element of instruction. Groups who consult with an accountant are likely to expect to learn to handle bookkeeping themselves, and not just to have an expert look over their books.

T.A. is obviously an important component of cultural democracy. If local groups are to freely participate in their communities' cultural lives, they will need to master the systems which enable that participation. Members of groups formerly excluded from participation will have greater and more pressing needs for various kinds of t.a. than others. The encouragement of pluralism will demand the use of various methods, languages, and networks for the dissemination of technical information.

At the same time, t.a. is no panacea, and seeing it as such may create problems. The resources presently available to cultural groups are clearly limited; government arts budgets aren't very large, the private sector gives only a small amount of its profit to nonprofit programs, and earned income potential for particular kinds of arts activities is necessarily limited. Each of these factors is subject to change; but no amount of t.a. will change the current limitations of available funds. If each of the small and struggling organizations which now keeps informal books, isn't very sophisticated about public relations, and has not organizational development plan becomes "professional," we will simply have used t.a. to produce a larger number of competent contenders for the still-limited pot of money for cultural activities. Without attention to broadening the nature of cultural activity and the resources available to support it, technical assistance programs are "band-aids" without much long-term effect.

Then how can t.a. programs be shaped so as to truly further the goals of policy? To begin with, t.a. is basically information provided in print, in person, or in some other medium of communication. Finding the appropriate medium and method for a given community and a given piece of information requires familiarity with the needs, resources, and vocabulary current in that community. In short, it requires the kind of assessment that can only be made at the local level, and with the participation of that community. Yet leaving each community to research or invent for itself the answers to its t.a. questions would be foolish; the legal requirements of a nonprofit corporation, the method of double-entry bookkeeping, and the guidelines for NEA grants programs are the same whether one lives in Arcata or El Centro.

The solution must be found, as we have pointed out in the section on decentralization, in the central coordination of the compilation of information, and the decentralization of the dissemination of information. Local publics must determine their needs for assistance and the forms such assistance will take; but the central authorities are best-suited to compile much of this information and distribute it to localities for further dissemination.


(5) The role of the California Arts Council in providing support to large arts organizations;

In this discussion, we have taken "large arts organizations" to mean established institutions with mostly professional staffs, relatively large budgets, usually with permanent facilities. The distinction between "large" and "small" organizations is difficult to make and perhaps not very useful. After all, a large urban neighborhood arts program may have a budget (and facilities) far larger than a regional semi-professional symphony orchestra; the budget-based distinction does nothing to clarify and differentiate the needs of each group. We have assumed that the CAC in this question means to ask for recommendations about its relation to major museums, professional opera and ballet companies, professional symphony orchestras and the like.

How can support for major institutions serve the goals of policy? Support which encourages major institutions to broaden their programs so that they are of interest to a larger portion of the population will help to further the goal of participation -- outreach programs, new community-oriented activities, the full use of institutional facilities, reduced admissions and programming in new sites can all help to increase participation.

Major institutions can also help to encourage cultural diversity in two ways: they can produce and preserve the work of many cultural traditions, and they can encourage, through the availability and use of their own resources, new creation stemming from the many traditions coexisting here.

Although the CAC has asked only for our recommendations on technical assistance for small organizations, a word must be said about t.a. for large organizations as well. Although the budgets or boards of most such institutions are large enough to satisfy the need for legal help or accounting and the like, large institutions will need t.a. in other areas. The State can take a productive role in helping institutions to adapt to the requirements of cultural development: to reach out to and fill the cultural needs of new audiences; to pool resources and expertise with other large institutions; to mount programs in unaccustomed settings, or in collaboration with new groups; and to involve the public in their own decision-making process.

To the extent that such institutions act only as monuments to a narrow and dominant subculture, or social institutions for the wealthy, the State will further no aspect of cultural development in supporting them. In this area of concern, as in all others, support must act as a tool of the policy of cultural democracy.


(6) The role of the California Arts Council in bringing people to the arts (audience development) and bringing the arts to the people (touring companies);

In the General Perspectives section of this document, we referred to two current trends in cultural policy worldwide: the democratization of culture and cultural democracy. The democratization of culture supposes that some people have real culture -- those who participate in the activities of high culture -- and some people have only folk culture, which stands in the same relation to real culture as a hobby does to a job.

Cultural democracy, the principle on which this cultural policy is based, supposes that everyone participates in one or more cultures, has the right to cultural expression and to participate in a democratic process of decision-making about cultural activity as an equal with members of other cultures.

The phrases "bring the arts to the people" and "bring the people to the arts" imply an idea of art which includes certain kinds of activity and excludes others; they imply that unless people are sitting in a theater watching a professional company, visiting a gallery with professional work displayed, or hearing the words of a public poet, they aren't experiencing "the arts."

Despite the development of innovative measures designed to expand the audiences of traditional high arts programs, the percentage of the population that is actually involved in these activities has remained low. No audience-development authority has been able to predict a maximum potential audience size for traditional arts events of more than 2-3 percent of the total population. This fact must be recognized as priorities for cultural development are being discussed and established.

Given this understanding, touring and audience development are by definition related to the ideas outlined in this policy: touring addresses the issue of equal access to cultural activities; and audience development speaks to the need to promote greater levels of public participation in cultural activities. The State's support of these efforts, however, must be brought into conformance with the idea of decentralization, and must avoid the tendency to impose an official version of culture upon the state's population.

Touring has been centralized in administration; the CAC's Theatre Tour selects centrally a number of companies from among which sponsors may choose and book subsidized performances. While the range of companies chosen has been fairly broad, it has been chosen by a handful of people meeting in Sacramento. Local bookers can't obtain State subsidy to bring in companies not in the Theatre Tour pool. The program is a way of helping people to see the State thinks they should see.

How then can touring serve the goals of cultural development? The touring of all kinds of activity -- performances, exhibits, readings, workshops and other events -- can provide a real basis for sharing and exchange in a pluralistic culture, if touring activity is decentralized. A decentralized touring program would permit exchange of all kinds within regions, among regions, with professional artists and non-professionals alike. It would provide support for the sponsorship of all types of events and activities desired by various groups within communities, and not only for events the central authority finds worthwhile. In short, decentralization of the decision-making in touring would strengthen the cultural democracy and cooperative spirit of communities by heeding the needs and interests of community members.

Most of the audience development schemes supported by the CAC have, in the same way, sought to develop a new audience for work people ought to be seeing. Audience development efforts targeted for lower-income people, people to whom legitimate theater is likely to be foreign territory, concentrate on lowering ticket prices, developing new marketing techniques or publicity, or performing in new settings. There's been little support or encouragement by the CAC for experimentation in developing new theater, in form or content, with communities of people who don't participate in traditional theater. More attention should be given to the development of programming that offers the opportunity to help communities use the medium of performance to formalize and express their own cultures.

It's also essential to consider obstacles to participation in all kinds of cultural activities which are usually ignored by audience development schemes. For example, safe and adequate lighting and transportation in all kinds of communities can help to increase audiences for cultural activities among all social groups. Audience development programs shouldn't concentrate only on creating the desire to participate in certain kinds of cultural activity; they should also consider the social and other obstacles to participation, and work for their elimination.

Audience development, when it focuses on removing obstacles to participation -- economic, social, and otherwise -- and on developing activities which draw the participation of a new audience, helps to encourage cultural pluralism and to broaden public participation in cultural activities. When approached in the spirit of cultural democracy, these are basic components of cultural development.

(7) The connection between the California Arts Council and tourism;

Tourism is a major industry in much of California, and a potential industry in some places where the economy is flagging due to the decline of extractive industries like lumbering or mining. Along with tourism comes increased demand for a whole range of services and physical improvements: motels, restaurants, campgrounds, roadways, and the like. The introduction of new business brings businesspeople and visitors, creating further new needs, which in turn are met by more new enterprises. The cycle of growth can be seen at all stages of progress and in a multiplicity of forms throughout California.

The growth of tourism is cultural concern from two different viewpoints: (1) from the viewpoint of the host community and its residents; and (2) from the viewpoint of the tourist. Both are interested in the quality of life during their stay in the host community. Cultural development goals apply to both.

Tourist development can have a destructive effect on the culture of the host community. Competition for the tourist dollar has blighted many California landscapes with strips of motels, eateries, mass-produced souvenir stands, RV parks and gas stations. The "discovery" of a picturesque mountain village brings pressure and overcrowding which endanger the social and cultural fabric which made the community attractive in the first place. The cultural patterns of community residents are radically altered.

Unplanned commercial development of this kind often ignores the cultural interests of the tourists themselves. Visitors are often drawn by the prospect of experiencing the culture of an area that is different from their own; their access to this kind of cultural difference may be limited. Despite this desire, they are often presented only with more opportunities to consume products similar to those at home: mass-produced souvenirs, chain-restaurant meals, and lodging in chain motels. They are likely to encounter little opportunity to participate in local activities, or to experience the difference in the culture of the area.

What role can the State take in controlling the damaging effects of tourist development in California communities? How can local culture be enhanced and supported through tourist development? How can planning and promotion of tourist activity enhance the quality of experience of resident and visitor alike?

Tourist development can work to strengthen the culture of communities, providing the development proceeds with the participation and direction of the community itself. Most tourists within California are themselves Californians; in a way, tourism is the complement to the CAC's attempts to foster exchange between cultural regions and groups -- it's a manifestation of the search for new and authentic cultural experience. Development planned and based on the recognition of this phenomenon can be a boon. For example, tax revenues generated through tourism can support local cultural activity; promotion and publicity for an area can build on the indigenous cultural activity through the sponsorship of festivals and other time-limited activities which limit the impact of tourist influx; it can include planning for transportation, new construction and open space which themselves minimize the impact of visitors on the culture of a community.


(8) The role of the California Arts Council in developing legislation;

To date, state-level arts legislation in California has fallen into two categories: "artists' rights" legislation, governing such aspects of professional artwork as copyright and resale royalties; and legislation concerning the nature or budgets of the State's arts programs.

Legislation related to the broad concerns of the CAC's policy may cover a much larger legislative territory. Some other types of legislation that affect cultural activities include: general nonprofit organization legislation; tax measures which favor charitable contributions; the enabling and budget legislation dealing with agencies in transportation, education, parks and recreation, housing, community development, employment, and others; and legislation that governs the powers and duties of local units of government.

That the CAC should play a role in the legislative arena (beyond the preparation of its own budget) is not in dispute. The exact nature of this role, however, must be clarified in terms of policy.

Generally speaking, the CAC must consider legislative activity as one of the means available for the implementation of cultural goals. In determining what action is appropriate for the Council, the same principles of decentralization must be considered and applied.

The public participation efforts that form the basis of the Council's programs of financial support and technical assistance will yield information about the current problems of cultural development work that may indicate the need for new legislation, or for the amendment, revision, or revocation of existing legislation.

The Council should take the initiative in investigating the impact of legislation upon cultural development work and cultural support. Based on assessments of state and local cultural problems, the CAC should research the ways that legislation could be used to promote or facilitate beneficial cultural action, or to eliminate barriers to such action. Legislative models from municipalities and other state and national governments should be considered and assessed for their relevance to cultural situations in California. The results of this investigation, as with all other CAC-supported research, should be provided freely to the public.

The CAC should act as a resource for artists, arts organizations, legislators, and other agencies in regard to the cultural impact of legislation. The Council should provide information about legislative models, and access to professional assistance to those developing legislation related to cultural concerns. Pending legislation should be analyzed according to the policies and priorities of the state. The State should provide for the formal solicitation of public opinion on issues of cultural concern and should act as liaison between legislative authorities and the public.

The Council should monitor legislative activity and disseminate information about its cultural impact in order to promote maximum participation in the legislative process. Systematic means should be developed to facilitate the flow of information about pending legislation and its potential impact on culture. Information should be provided in such a way as to inform the general public, include analysis on both sides of various issues, and clarify any official stand of the CAC on the basis of its policy. In general, the Council should not itself organize the mobilization of public support, leaving this role to groups outside of government.

The Council should encourage discussion of legislative options at the Federal, regional, and local levels. As an official agency of the State, the CAC should promote broader discussion of the relevance of legislation to other levels of government as well. Technical assistance of various kinds should be offered to other units of government, both directly and indirectly through organizations and associations already active in providing such assistance. The Council should ensure that local governments broaden their democratic practices in cultural development and support programs of all kinds, including the preparation and consideration of legislation and regulations of various kinds that have impact on cultural activities and the welfare of artists.

(9) The role of the California Arts Council in aiding individual artists;

In the first section of this Appendix, the role of the CAC in supporting artist residences was discussed. Residency programs, like many other programs which address the need for cultural development, provide support for individual artists. They provide opportunities for employment, to enlarge audiences, and promote the creation of a generally improved environment for creative work.

The need for specific assistance to the individual artist, outside of a broader interest in cultural development, is a major concern in California, where the population of individual artists and craftspeople is unusually high. Many of these artists are unemployed or underemployed. Many have difficulty finding access to resources and information, and all are subject to regulations and systems that were created without artists in mind and frequently impose hardship upon them.

Among the CAC's legislated mandates is the responsibility to encourage artist employment. There has been considerable discussion of the artist's inherent ability as "problem-solvers," a point that arguably applies to artists in the context of their own work, but has not been established as a skill automatically transferrable to other types of activity. Successful models of artists working in new settings exist; many unsuccessful experiments also exist. In many cases, a lack of goals and evaluation procedures makes the success or failure -- and the reasons for it -- unclear. The need for training to precede employment has not been explored, nor are there many successful models of training for artists working in such areas as therapy, design, or community organizing.

Much of the impetus for artist employment development has come through Federal employment training programs like CETA [the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act]. While not designed specifically for the arts, CETA-funded public service programs have shown how artist employment in communities can help to alleviate unemployment and also result in real benefits to the community. But the uncertain future of Federal employment programs and difficulty of finding replacement funds to continue project work have prevented many of these successful program models from being continued. As State and Federal unemployment programs are reevaluated and future plans made, the CAC should encourage provisions for the special consideration of artists as a targeted group of unemployed persons.

Artists play an important part in the renewal of culture through new creation. A diverse and vital culture is dependent upon the continual exploration of new creative ideas, some of which become the basis for ongoing cultural traditions. The CAC can also promote the employment of artists by promoting programs which result in the creation of new artistic work. Commissioning as a means of encouraging new creative work has the advantage of emphasizing the connection between the expenditure of funds and the return of identifiable work. Commissioning assures that the work produced will be seen or heard by the public, thus also increasing public access to the work itself.

The Art in Public Buildings Program, on which the CAC collaborated with the Office of the State Architect, commissioned new visual artwork for public buildings. The CAC can play an important role, as with Art in Public Buildings, in encouraging and supporting new, public, and participatory models for the commissioning of all types of work. Using these models and the more traditional models of private patronage, the State should take an active stance in encouraging the commissioning of new work by California artists, both as a means of enriching the cultural environment and as a source of employment for living artists.

Aside from assisting in the development of employment opportunities and encouraging the creation of new work, the CAC should advocate changes in laws and regulations that result in hardship to professional artists. The unique needs of professional artists for flexible living and working space, the unreliability of artists' income, and other facts of artists' work lives give them peculiar characteristics as a class of working people. Because the needs of artists are not generally considered in planning, many activities of government such as zoning, taxation, and assistance to small businesses effectively exclude them. The State should work for more equitable treatment of artists under the law and encourage the inclusion and consideration of artists in planning at the local, state, and federal levels.

The final area of attention to individual artists' needs is that of technical assistance. The State should provide for the rendering of t.a. services at the local level throughout California (see discussion under issue #4 in this Appendix), and should work with non-arts agencies which are involved in rendering assistance to individuals at the state and local levels in developing an appreciation of the special needs of artists. Additionally, the CAC should encourage the development of more helpful programs in the state's educational institutions to provide pre-professional arts students with skills and information which will prepare them for the responsibilities of work life, including knowledge of law, business, and related skills.

(10) The role of the California Arts Council in encouraging the ethnic and diverse cultural arts activities;

This whole cultural policy embraces the idea of cultural pluralism, recognizing that our society comprises a number of coexisting and equal subcultures and publics and not on single culture or public. Every aspect of the section of Goals and Principles recommends that all subcultures receive balanced support throughout the range of cultural development activities. This should be the guiding principle in all programs of the CAC.

However, balanced support requires more than a commitment to equity; it also requires the differentiation of means employed in promoting cultural goals. Here the CAC has a particularly important role to play in identifying and encouraging new methods of cultural development which are applicable to the needs of various subcultures and communities. There is no single program of cultural development which will work among all subcultures or in all communities; rather, methods will vary to accommodate the customs, networks, and other social structures within each subcultural group or community. The CAC must be continuously aware of the nature and internal organization of various communities and groups, and continuously flexible in accommodating means to the situation at hand.

The awareness of difference will lead to several kinds of activity. It will draw attention to the necessity to provide for the training of animateurs, administrators, and artists from each subcultural group, since they will be best equipped to aid in the articulation and implementation of their communities' cultural goals. It will mean that the State must also work to ensure that adequate resources are available to each subcultural group or community for the creation of new work and for implementation of cultural projects and the maintenance of community organizations. The policy of pluralism will compel the State to assume responsibility for assuring adequate representation for all subcultural groups and communities on the administrative staffs and decision-making boards in each component of a decentralized system. And it will place new and significant emphasis on research and the development of models which address the specific problems of various subcultural groups, e.g., how can new immigrants become part of the culture of the whole without sacrificing traditional culture; how can institutions historically dedicated to the promotion of certain kinds of high culture work to promote the new policy of pluralism?

(11) The role of the California Arts Council in gathering and disseminating information;

Gathering and disseminating information is one of the most important coordinating functions in any decentralized system. It is the function that encourages consideration of alternatives in cultural development; suggests directions and provides ideas to local cultural leaders without forcing compliance; provides a basis for evaluation and comparison; and thereby prevents the hegemony of any group or viewpoint, thus encouraging and protecting cultural diversity.

The kinds of information useful to the purposes of the CAC can be divided into three categories:

  1. technical assistance to artists, arts groups, and other cultural organizations;
  2. information about actual cultural activities to the interested public; and
  3. information about the ideas and policies of cultural development to the "official" public of government agencies and private-sector organizations.

The provision of t.a. information is thoroughly discussed in part 4 of this Appendix. Different approaches to gathering and disseminating information are useful in each of the remaining categories.

In the case of information about local cultural activities, centralization is unnecessary and impossible. The State's activities in this area should focus on strengthening the abilities of local groups to provide information for community members on the full range of local cultural activity, just as the State should work to upgrade local groups' skills as providers of t.a. information.

The centralization of information gathering and research about new programming and policy ideas is, however, desirable for a number of reasons: for most local cultural agencies, the short-term demands of program administration and middle-range planning forbid the luxury of extensive research into alternative program models, the evaluation of different approaches to government cultural support, or current developments in the many programs of State and Federal government which have impact on cultural activity. In collecting and disseminating such information, the State can help communities evaluate, upgrade, and plan their own activities and programs.


(12) The role of the California Arts Council in relation to other arts organizations ("NAPNOC, Confederation, unions, etc... etc...")

The principle of decentralization, discussed at length in the Means section of this policy, emphasizes the importance of developing the authority and responsibility of statewide, regional, and local groups throughout California in working for cultural development. Strong and cooperative relations with all types of cultural organizations are necessary to the translation of the principle of decentralization to practice.

As the policy of decentralization is implemented, the CAC should encourage the formation and continuing activity of groups which themselves encourage public consideration of cultural development issues and the expression and exchange of diverse viewpoints about those issues, in order to promote real public participation at all levels of cultural planning and decision-making.

The State should also encourage the formation of organizations and associations which promote cooperative attention to the problems of specific interest groups in the cultural field. Organizations of individual artists (like Artists Equity Association) and of arts organizations (like the California Theatre Council) can provide a forum for the discussion of the specific interests of their constituencies. The CAC should be in constant communication with such groups, and should seek their advice and assistance in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs that fall within their areas of expertise.

As decentralization of authority in decision-making becomes a reality, the CAC should encourage the formation and activities of local associations which can cooperate in the development and implementation of local cultural programs, and can lobby for greater local commitments to programs of cultural development. The decentralization of authority itself will call for the creation or designation of local groups to fulfill particular functions relative to the service, advocacy and support aspects of cultural development activity. At all stages, decentralization measures will vary according to the nature, composition, capabilities, and appropriateness of existing local organizations.

The CAC must take all measures possible to insure that the arrangements it supports at the local level are in keeping with the principles of cultural democracy outlined in its policies. The State should collaborate with as many organizations as possible at all stages of planning, implementation, and evaluation.


  1. For a more complete discussion of animation, see the December 1975 issue of the "Information Bulletin" of the Council of Europe, especially "Implications of a policy of socio-cultural community development" by E. Grosjean and H. Ingberg. (Return to referenced text)

Arlene Goldbard and Don Adams are writers and consultants in organizational and cultural development. They had recently established their consulting firm, Adams & Goldbard, when this policy draft was submitted in 1978. Since 1985, they have been based in Ukiah, California.

This draft policy document was commissioned by the State of California. For a complete rendition of its story, from the perspective of author Arlene Goldbard in 1996, see her Author's Preface.

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