From the Desk of 

June 16, 2023

That’s a wrap for the City budget! Hits and misses for the creative community.

The City budget process for Fiscal Year 2023-2024 more or less wrapped up on June 13, when the Council approved the Mayor’s June Budget Message — with a few modifications. While the debate mostly centered around housing issues, there were some big wins for the creative community, as well as a few disappointments. Here’s a quick breakdown for arts advocates:

The Mayor allocated $1M from the General Fund to supplement the Office of Cultural Affairs’ Grants Programs, which are still impacted by declines in hotel tax revenue. An additional $2.5M was set aside in a reserve to protect these vital programs against future volatility, with budget deficits projected in coming years.

Councilmember Omar Torres, along with CMs Arjun Batra, Dev Davis, Bien Doan, and Peter Ortiz proposed an incremental re-investment of half the General Fund portion of hotel tax revenue (aka TOT) to arts and culture programs starting in Fiscal Year 2024-2025. Unfortunately, their proposal was not included in the final budget message. We want to thank these Councilmembers for lifting up one of SJAA’s budget priorities, and we look forward to working with them to find pathways to sustainable arts funding.

Speaking of which, Councilmember Torres successfully passed a memo calling for a City Council Study Session on arts community funding in the Fall/Winter timeframe. This will include a discussion of recommendations from City Administration to explore a Private Percent for Art policy and a reallocation of the hotel tax — two of SJAA’s top three priorities. Topics will also include potential ballot measures to support arts and cultural programs. As you can imagine, we’ll be ready to show up and speak up, and we’ll make sure you are, too!

None of this progress would be possible without your advocacy. Thank you for raising your voice to shine a light on San José’s creative community. And stay tuned for the next opportunity!

P.S. Stay in the loop and start your own community of advocates on the SJAA Slack Channel!