Tuesday, March 20, 2012

California / News: Arts Council License Plate Aims for the Stars

The California Arts Council is hoping to vastly increase their current funding level by leaning heavily on their state's most marketable asset - Hollywood stars.

As part of a new program called "Create a State", the Council has enlisted a variety of entertainment icons to appear on electronic billboards around the state promoting the Arts license plate. The stars, being billed as "Arts Drivers", will (it is assumed) sport Arts plates on their personal transportation and help to promote them elsewhere. And it is a fairly impressive list: Robert Redford, Steve Martin, Quincy Jones, Jack Black, Annette Bening, Tim Robbins, Harrison Ford, Russell Simmons, the Edge (of U2 fame), Vernon Davis (49ers player), and the cast of "Glee" to name just a few.

The plates earn $35 for the Arts Council each time they are registered, and $40 each time they're renewed. At the present rate of around 65,000 annual regs/renewals, they earn a minimum of $2.28 million per year (my calculation, on the conservative side). The Council would like to increase that figure greatly - up to one million plates a year, for a possible haul of over $35 million annually (again, my calculation). This would, if all goes well, raise the state's spending on arts programs to just over one dollar per capita.

In a calculated move, the Arts Council has also convinced a variety of car rental agencies and other operators of auto fleets to fit their vehicles with Arts plates as well. This is beneficial on two levels, in that the Council receives its cut while the business also earns a tax deduction by dint of their financial support for a non-profit group. Besides, the plates just look cooler than the plain old script plates, right?

 Sources: Los Angeles Times March 15 article, California Arts Council advocacy info.

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