CA Arts Council Peer Review Panelists to Be Fairly Compensated Under New Law

Friday, September 28, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Today, legislation to allow fair compensation for peer review panelists in the CA Arts Council was signed by Governor Jerry Brown.  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 discussing grant program applications.  

“According to the California Arts Council, time and financial burdens are the most significant barriers for panelists serving on the Council,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “Compensating peer review panelists will allow the Council to include diverse individuals who represent a broad range of artistic and cultural viewpoints and economic backgrounds.”

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

Peer review panelists are experts in their fields who commit significant time to review 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 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 but not honoraria.

Compensating review panelists via honoraria has increasingly become a best practice adopted by other states, local arts agencies, and other grant making institutions. This year, the Art Council is expecting to need 80 grant program peer review panelists, many of whom will bear financial and time burdens for their service on the Council.

“Serving on a peer review panel is a serious commitment that some individuals cannot afford to make without fair compensation.  As a steward of state arts funding, the Arts Council should strive for membership that reflects California’s ethnic, financial, and regional diversity; fair compensation will better allow the Council to accomplish that goal.”

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.