PRESS RELEASE: Senator Laird Champions Effort to Strengthen State’s Partnership with California’s Museums

For Immediate Release

Contact: Richard Stapler,

SACRAMENTO – Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) has announced the California Culture and History Investments Act, legislation to secure a long-term investment in the state’s partnership with California’s museums. Senate Bill 963 updates the funding priorities paired with a legislative budget proposal to direct funding and leadership positions for the state’s Museum Grant Program (MGP), part of the California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE) at the California Natural Resources Agency. 

“Museums help us understand the past, the present, and potential futures.  In California, museums serve as caretakers, interpreters, educators, and amplifiers of culture and history, scientific discoveries, and the arts,” said Laird. “The state partners with these institutions and should ensure that they remain accessible, meaningful, and respectful to all.”

SB 963 updates statutory findings and priorities to preserve and protect California’s cultural resources, first established twenty years ago. This legislation updates funding priorities to align with the state’s goals around serving underserved communities, fighting misinformation, promoting understanding of critical issues, improving access, safety, and resilience of important cultural and historic assets, broadening exposure to the state’s diverse history, and supporting the ethical stewardship of sensitive art and artifacts.

“California’s museums share stories that would otherwise not be told, and our exhibitions and programs prompt important public dialogue,” said Jennifer Caballero, interim executive director of the California Association of Museums. “Senator Laird’s effort reinforces the state’s long-standing commitment to support public investments that museums need to serve all California communities and helps build the state’s capacity to partner with museums long-term.”

If enacted, SB 963 would help ensure that the MGP is equipped to support museums’ focus on a variety of critically necessary projects and programs, including collaboration and engagement with low-income communities and people with disabilities, protection of assets from the effects of climate change and disasters, and consultations with California Indian tribes and repatriation of sensitive artifacts.

More than 1,500 museums in California serve over 22 million visitors per year. These include art and natural history museums, historical societies, science and technology centers, botanical gardens, zoos, children’s museums, aquariums, and cultural centers. California’s museums support over 80,000 jobs and have a $6.5 billion financial impact on the economy.

SB 963 is introduced as the state is accepting applications from museums for a round of grants supported by $50 million appropriated in the FY 2021-22 budget, which was awarded to help California’s museums recover from nearly 18 months of closure during the pandemic. This one-time funding is the first General Fund appropriation to the MGP since the program’s creation. SB 963 is paired with a FY 2022-23 legislative budget proposal to appropriate an additional $50 million to the MGP, $75 million to support CCHE grants, and two permanent full-time leadership positions for the California Natural Resources Agency, which administers CCHE and MGP.

SB 963 will next be referred for consideration in a Senate policy committee.


Senator John Laird represents the 17th State Senate District, which includes all of Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo counties, the majority of Monterey County, as well as parts of Santa Clara County. He previously served as the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, member of the State Integrated Waste Management Board, a member of the State Assembly, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Aids Project, and two terms as Santa Cruz Mayor. His lifetime of public service and social justice advocacy saw him become one of the first openly gay mayors to serve in the United States. Senator Laird has been a long-time resident of Santa Cruz with his spouse John Flores.