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Schwarzenegger Lauds Million Plates Campaign for the Arts With Music Heavies in L.A.

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Photo: Peter Grigsby, Office of the Governor


Photo: Peter Grigsby, Office of the Governor
State budget troubles mean less support for programs in our schools, and of those programs, the arts is usually first to go. The Million Plates Campaign, backed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, aims to support funding for the arts in California through the sale of specialty "arts" license plates.Schwarzenegger and his wife, First Lady Maria Shriver, were on hand yesterday at Fox Studios in Los Angeles to discuss the campaign and the value of arts along with several music industry heavy hitters.

"This campaign will take California from last in national arts funding to first and it is as simple as changing the plate on your car. It is easy to get at artsplate.org or your local DMV," said the Governor.

Producer, songwriter and musician T-Bone Burnett spoke about the waning presence of the arts in our public education:

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We've neglected the arts pretty roundly in this country for the last 20 years. About 20 years ago the United States decided to become a knowledge society -- to leave manufacturing behind and become a knowledge society -- and in that 20 years we've reduced the value of our knowledge to zero.

Echoing Burnett's sentiments was iconic music producer and artist Quincy Jones, who urged the listeners to work towards elevating the arts in California: "I do believe that, from the bottom of my heart, if we get this on track that everything everybody is trying to do here, we're saying the same things. Hang the Art plate and do everything you can, especially in this state."

Shriver explained how the plate works, and how it will go towards sustaining arts programs in California. Widespread participation in the license plate campaign "will take us from last to first," remarked Shriver. "That will put $40 million minimum into our arts budget. That will enable kids to learn how to play a musical instrument, to draw on a canvas, to paint a mural, to become a costume designer, to become a poet, to become an artist to make a living. And most important, to see themselves as a value to this society that we live in."

As Schwarzenegger outlined, the plates are ordered from the DMV's selection of specialty plates. "One million cars with California Arts Plates would mean $40 million for the arts. That would put California near the top in arts funding rather than dead last," says Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Chair of the California Arts Council of the Campaign. The initial cost is $50, and the annual renewal is $40, and it is tax deductible.