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Music Industry Celebrates Passage of California Prop 28 for K-12 Arts Funding: ‘A Tremendous Win for Kids’

The Recording Academy, Fender and more celebrate the successful measure, which will provide nearly $1 billion to music and arts funding to the state's public school students.

The music industry is rejoicing following the successful passage of California’s Proposition 28, which voters approved 62% to 38% (with 60% of total votes tallied as of Friday). 

The proposition — which will 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 industry, garnering 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.

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“The success of Prop 28 is a tremendous win for kids in California’s Public schools and we’re so thankful to California voters for approving this historical investment in music and arts education,” said Fender Musical Instruments Corp. CEO Andy Mooney in a statement provided to Billboard. “No matter their economical or geographical background, over six million kids every year will have equal access to music and arts resources that teach skills, behaviors, and aptitudes that will benefit them in whatever professional career they pursue.”

Authored by former Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent Austin Beutner, the proposition was endorsed by more than 350 individuals and organizations, including companies like Warner Chapell Music, Red Light Management, The Recording Academy and CAA; legendary executives such as Quincy Jones and Irving Azoff; and A-list artists like Dr. Drewill.i.amLil Baby and Katy Perry. In mid-October, Christina Aguilera and her fiancé Matthew Rutler (investor and founding executive of MasterClass) hosted an event at their home in support of the proposition that featured performances by musicians Lady BriOne 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 help ensure Proposition 28 got on the ballot — says it recognized the passage of Prop 28 as a victory for California children, as well as for the state’s creative economy.

“As music creators, we at the Recording Academy can’t overstate how valuable music is to our communities and ultimately to the world,” said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. in a statement. “We’re thrilled California voters have recognized the importance of keeping the music alive in our schools by approving Proposition 28. I want to recognize Austin Beutner for his vision and leadership and extend a massive thank you to all of our California members who used their voices to ensure that the arts have a place in the classroom.”

The proposition, which draws from the state’s general fund without raising taxes, garnered such strong support from the industry 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 the funding marked 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 proposition 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 variety of music industry roles that go beyond just being an artist or producer. “What you find is that these industries have all of those opportunities available,” Hutcherson told Billboard prior to the bill’s passage.

UMG’s Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge added, “With this funding, music and arts teachers will be able to influence the next generation of musicians, vocalists, recording engineers, graphic designers, video game creators, among so many other areas, and reinforce California’s position as the global epicenter of music and the arts.”

In theory, the funding provided by Prop 28’s passage will inject nearly $1 billion into California’s creative economy annually. According to Bloomberg, the state of California is on the verge of becoming the fourth largest economy in the world by overtaking Germany and, according to a study conducted by Otis College of Art and Design, nearly 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.”

UPDATE: This article was updated Nov. 16 at 1:58 p.m. EST to include Sir Lucian Grainge’s quote.