The music industry is rejoicing after the successful passage of California’s Proposition 28, which voters approved 62% to 38% (with 60% of the total votes counted as of Friday).
The proposal — which would provide nearly $1 billion in new funding annually for arts and music education in all K-12 public schools in the state — was widely championed by the music industryand garnered financial support from companies including Fender Music and Universal Music Group, which flew a “Yes on Prop 28” flag over the famous Capitol Building in Los Angeles in the weeks leading up to Election Day.
“The success of Prop 28 is a huge victory for children in California’s public schools, and we are so grateful to the voters of California for approving this historic investment in music and arts education,” said Fender Musical Instruments Corp. Manager Andy Mooney in a statement given to Billboard. “Regardless of their economic or geographic background, over six million children each year will have equal access to music and arts resources that teach skills, behaviors and abilities that will benefit them in whatever professional career they pursue.”
Written by former Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent Austin Beutner, the proposal was endorsed by more than 350 individuals and organizations, including companies such as Warner Chapell Music, Red Light Management, The Recording Academy and CAA; legendary leaders such as Quincy Jones and Irving Azoff; and A-list artists like Dr. Dre, will.i.am, Lil Baby and Katy Perry. In the middle of October Christina Aguilera and her fiancé Matthew Rutler (investor and founding head of MasterClass) hosted an event at their home in support of the proposal that featured performances by musicians Lady Bri, A republic‘s Tim Myers and Aloe Blacc.
The Recording Academy — which recruited members in both Los Angeles and San Francisco to provide their signatures to ensure Proposition 28 made it onto the ballot — says it recognized the passage of Prop 28 as a victory for California children as well as the state’s creative economy.
“As music creators, we at the Recording Academy cannot overstate how valuable music is to our community and ultimately to the world,” said the Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. in a statement. “We are thrilled that the voters of California have recognized the importance of keeping music alive in our schools by approving Proposition 28. I want to recognize Austin Beutner for his vision and leadership and say a big thank you to all of our members in California who used their voices to ensure that the arts have a place in the classroom.”
The proposal, which draws from the state’s general fund without raising taxes, drew such strong industry support in part because it opens a gateway to California’s creative industries for California’s 6 million public school students. That includes students in disadvantaged communities, with 30% of funding earmarked for schools based on their share of low-income students enrolled statewide. UMG’s chief people and inclusion officer and co-chair of the Taskforce for Meaningful Change Eric Hutcherson, who said this is the first proposal UMG has officially gotten behind as a company, notes that by exposing more kids to music education, the funding will help inspire a diverse set of future leaders in a range of music industry roles that reach above just being an artist or producer. “What you find is that these industries have all these opportunities available,” Hutcherson said Billboard prior to the adoption of the bill.
In theory, the funding from Prop 28’s passage will inject nearly $1 billion into California’s creative economy annually. According to Bloombergthe state of California is on the verge of becoming the fourth largest economy in the world by overtaking Germany and according to a study by Otis College of Art and Design, almost a quarter of the state’s economy comes from the entertainment sector.
The successful campaign is one that supporters hope can be replicated in other states like New York and Florida in future elections.
“For the first time in a long, long time, teachers and school staff were joined by artists and entrepreneurs, along with business, labor and community organizations to support public education,” Beutner said in a statement. “I hope we can build on this and continue to advocate for the best possible education for the children in California’s public schools. A good education is the best path out of poverty for many and the promise of opportunity for all.”