Compensation for California Arts Council’s Peer Review Panelists Sails through Assembly Committee

Thursday, April 26, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, legislation to allow compensation for peer review panelists passed the Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media. AB 2456, authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), authorizes the California Arts Council to compensate grant program review panelists for their time spent reviewing and convening to discuss grant program applications.   

“Current law limits the California Arts Council’s ability to fairly compensate peer review panelist,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “Peer grant review panels are at the core of the Council’s many activities. Allowing the Council to provide honoraria will improve its ability to build a diverse group of grant panelists and better represent California’s diverse arts culture.”

The California Arts Council was created in 1975 under then Governor Jerry Brown to increase access to the arts for all Californians. Over the course of 25+ years, the Council’s impact has grown, especially through efforts that bring arts programming to underserved communities and populations across the state (such as rural communities, inner city neighborhoods, prisons, and schools).

Peer review panelists are experts in their fields who commit significant time to review and assign a rank to applications for Arts Council funding. Panelists are required to read an average of 60 applications as assigned, review all work samples, discuss the applications with the other panel members, and ensure that programmatic guidelines and standards are maintained. Current law allows the Arts Council to provide reimbursement for a panelist’s travel and related costs incurred in the performance of their official duties, but not honoraria.

Compensating review panelists via honoraria has increasingly become a best practice, adopted by other States’ arts agencies and local arts agencies, as well as other grant making institutions. The Arts Council has discovered that time and financial burden are the most significant barriers for panelist to serve. This year the Art Council expects the need for the services of 80 grant program peer review panelists. 

“In order to meet quality and diversity goals in peer review panelists, we must financially support panelists.  AB 2456 provides that financial support and is the best way to increase both the number, and quality, of grant reviewers.”

Richard Bloom represents California’s 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.