Contra Costa County’s Board of Supervisors has approved plans for an Arts Council to promote the development of local arts and culture.

Previously, the Contra Costa County Arts and Culture Commission advised the board on matters related to the arts. As a government agency, the commission was limited in terms of where it could get funding and how it could be spent, and in March 2022, the Board of Supervisors dissolved the commission following a series of resignations from commissioners.

A planning committee was formed to explore the creation of a nonprofit arts council with more flexibility for fundraising and spending, and the Board of Supervisors has approved $262,500 in funds from Measure X, a half-cent sales tax approved by county voters in 2020, that will be used to pay salaries of arts council employees, as well as expenses such as office space and web development.

Measure X, a half-cent sales tax approved by Contra Costa County voters in November 2020, will provide an estimated $81 million annually over 20 years for essential county services. (Photo illustration by Bay City News Foundation)

The board at its June 27 meeting approved plans to seek a contractor to work with county officials and execute the council’s planned services. The goal of the new art council would be to connect the local art community and advocate for the arts in local government matters, said senior deputy county administrator Lara DeLaney at the board meeting.

The county also plans to have the council create a database of art within Contra Costa County, including a list of art and cultural organizations, art in public places and local artists. Additionally, the council would have a $1.1 million grant program for the arts in Contra Costa County beginning in 2025 with funds from local sales tax funds.

Contra Costa is the latest county to explore an arts council to facilitate local arts and culture. Fifty-three of the 58 counties in the state currently have an arts council or are in the planning stages to develop one. Contra Costa County is home to over 300 arts and cultural organizations, according to a presentation from the council’s planning committee.

Spencer Otte recently graduated from Cal Sate Fullerton, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. At Fullerton, he was the news editor and editor-in-chief of The Daily Titan and covered the 2022 midterm elections, the 2021 Orange County Oil Spill and President Biden’s visit to Irvine. This summer, Spencer was selected to be an editing intern through the Dow Jones News Fund.