California Gov. Gray Davis has named former entertainment lawyer Barry Hessenius director of the California Arts Council, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Hessenius, who once represented members of the rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, is president and CEO of the California Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, a statewide nonprofit advocacy group.
In his new position, he hopes to increase California’s awareness of and participation in the arts.
“There’s a feeling in the public minds that the arts are like a frill,” Hessenius told the Chronicle. “Our job is to prove that they aren’t a frill.”
Hessenius would like to re-establish the arts as a core curriculum subject for all California students, from kindergarten through high school.
“We have a lot of evidence now that kids who take art do better,” he said.
He also wants to increase the amount of money that California spends on the arts. California currently spends about 84 cents per resident on the arts, which places it in the middle among states.
“I hope we can get it up to a dollar or two per capita,” he told the Chronicle. “No European nation spends less than five dollars per capita.”
Davis has proposed adding $10 million to the council’s current $20 million budget for the fiscal 2001 year. The proposal is before state lawmakers.