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Do you have extra counter space in your facility, or are you planning an event with handouts and would like to support the arts in California? Consider letting folks know about the importance of the California Arts License Plate. The California Arts Council can provide brochures about the Arts Plate for distribution--for events, program stuffers, front counters, or to hand out to friends.

Please fill out the following web form below to request brochures, or print out the PDF and mail or fax in the request. By doing so you help the California Arts Council’s public awareness campaign concerning the California Arts License Plate and the importance of the arts for children and communities. Questions may be addressed to Mary Beth Barber at (916) 322-6588 or mbarber@cac.ca.gov.


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Article on the California Arts License Plate

Are you in charge of printed publications and need content? Consider placing an article about the California Arts License Plate and the importance of arts for children. The California Arts Council, as part of its public-awareness and advocacy efforts, has created an article that can be used by publications on the California Arts License Plate.

(250 words)

    Wayne Thiebaud, a California painter, first received acclaim in the early 1960s with his paintings of confections like ice cream cones, cakes and soups in thickly textured, bright colors. In the early 1990s, Thiebaud (pronounced “TEE-boh”) created a piece of art for the common Californian: Coastline, more commonly known as the California Arts License Plate.

    Since the time car owners were first able to purchase the arts license plate in 1994, the plate design--featuring the palm trees and sunset motif--has become an icon for the Golden State. But Coastline is more than a pretty picture for an automobile. The Arts License Plate directly supports arts organizations and artists providing local arts programming and working with school-age children to make theater, dance, music and the visual arts part of their lives.

    “Theater, music, dance and the visual arts are a crucial part of a well-rounded education,” said Muriel Johnson, Director of the California Arts Council.  “The funding from the Arts License Plate helps organizations teach children how to use their creative minds through hands-on activities.”

    Anyone who owns a car can get the Arts License Plate by ordering online from the Department of Motor Vehicles at www.dmv.ca.gov. Fees are $50 for a standard plate ($40 renewal) and $98 for a personalized plate ($78 renewal).

    Those drivers who love the iconic image of Thiebaud's Coastline for their car also know that their purchase goes towards advancing the arts and creativity for California's children.  Approximately 60 percent of the California Arts Council budget comes from sales and renewals of the Arts License Plate.  More information is available through the California Arts Council's website at www.cac.ca.gov.

The California Arts Council would like to thank the hundreds of organizations that have supported the arts in California and promoted the Arts License Plate since its inception in 1994.  Funds from the Arts License Plate advance California through the arts and creativity, especially through arts for children, public-value programs in the arts, and local arts programming. We appreciate your help in this endeavor.


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The California Arts Council is asking media outlets to show "Kids Come Alive with the Arts," an animated 30-second public service announcement that features voice-over by actor and California Arts Council member Annette Bening. The spot emphasizes the importance of the arts for children, and that funding from sales and renewals of the California Arts License Plate goes for arts programs for children and communities.

The 30-second PSA was initially created for the outdoor screen at the San Francisco International Film Festival in April/May 2007. The California Arts Council is indebted to all parties who donated their time and expertise to this project: Ms. Bening; Marc Graue and Andy Welker from Marc Graue Recording Studios in Los Angeles; sound designer Jimmy Bell, voice-over talent Chad Bell, and 3rd Bedroom Studios in Sacramento; video editor and designer Nicholas Maximytchev and the production and executive staff at Eye Candy Media; the San Francisco Film Society; California Arts Council graphic artist Theresa D'Onofrio; voice-over talent Katie Macintyre and her parents Kirsten and Corey Macintyre; and California artist Wayne Thiebaud, the creator of the Arts License Plate image.

Beta and DVD copies are available from the California Arts Council. Also available is a 30-second audio-only version for use on radio and other appropriate venues. CDs and email sound files are available from the California Arts Council. Contact Mary Beth Barber at (916) 322-6588 or to request the video or audio PSA. Because kids come alive with the arts!


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Arts License Plate Color    Arts License Plate Black and White


  • Can you support the arts in California through an icon web link?

  • Add the Arts License Plate icon to your website to let viewers know the importance of the California Arts License Plate.

The California Arts License Plate, designed by prominent California artist Wayne Thiebaud, was the nation's first plate specifically designed to benefit the arts. Sales and renewals of the plate provide approximately 60 percent of the California Arts Council budget – funds that are then provided for grants for kids and community art programs.  The license plate design may be used by other Web sites to link to the California Arts Council web site at www.cac.ca.gov.

The Arts License Plate logo is copyrighted by Wayne Thiebaud and licensed to the California Arts Council for the sole purpose of promoting the California Arts License Plate.  By downloading the image of the "Coastline" license plate, you are agreeing to legitimate use of the image.

DIRECTIONS:  Right click on the image above and "save as." Please have the icon link only to www.cac.ca.gov/licenseplate/index.php.

create a state of

Personalized Sequential
1. click personalized (left)
or click sequential (right)

2. fill out the form

3. order with a credit card
Wayne Thiebaud

This Pop artist contemporary of Andy Warhol is famous for his still life images of food, especially sweets, painted in bright pastels with thick strokes.  A 2001 issue of Time dedicated to the Western states called Thiebaud "The Poet of Pastry," saying that "Wayne Thiebaud offers deep pleasures in the everyday, from pies and cakes to slices of landscapes."

Originaly from Arizona Thiebaud moved to California at a young age and is often considered California's artistic native son.  He started as a commercial artist after attending Long Beach Polytechnic High School, working briefly at Walt Disney Studios, studying commercial art at the Frank Wiggins School in Los Angeles, and working as a cartoonist in Long Beach in the 1930s.  After World War II he attended San Jose State College and Cal State Sacramento for an advanced degree in art, and then gained national recognition in the 1960s with his still-life images of food.  He has taught in numerous California institutions, especially a long stint at University of California at Davis where he is currently a professor emeritus.

Behind the Plate

The California Arts License Plate was created through special legislation in 1994. It is a joint project between the California Arts Council and the Department of Motor Vehicles and was the first specialty-plate program in the U.S. designed solely to benefit the arts. The plate image is titled Coastline and was created by renowned California artist Wayne Thiebaud in 1993. Since then the iconic image has become famous worldwide, and sales and renewals of the plate have provided millions of dollars to support arts programs in California.

When the Arts License Plate was first released, Sylvester Stallone encouraged car owners to be arts supporters and “bolt ‘em to your car!”  More recently former California Arts Council member Annette Bening reminded Californians that “kids come alive with the arts” in an animated PSA.


What's the difference between a standard plate and a personalized plate?

    A standard plate has a randomly chosen set of numbers and letters chosen by the DMV. A personalized plate has letters and numbers specifically chosen by the owner of the vehicle. A standard Arts Plate purchase is $50, with $40 annual renewal; personalized Arts Plates are $98, with $78 renewal.

If I already have a personalized plate, may I transfer the message to an Arts Plate?

    Yes, as long as the message is no more than six characters. Because a new plate will have to be manufactured, the cost will be $98 for the initial purchase and $78 annual renewal.

Can I keep my current random number license plate number?

    No. When you order an Arts Plate, a new sequence of six characters will be assigned to you.

Do I have to wait for my annual registration renewal to get my Arts Plate?

    No. You may purchase the plate at any time during your registration cycle.

Can I order an Arts License Plate for my motorcycle?

    Unfortunately, no. At the present time, the Arts License Plate is only available for automobiles and trucks.

Can the California Arts License Plate image be used for other purposes?

    No.  The Arts Plate image, titled Coastline, has a copyright by the artist Wayne Thiebaud and may only be used by the DMV for the California Arts License Plate program, or by the DMV and the California Arts Council to support the California Arts License Plate.  Any other use of the Coastline image (especially non-plate related advertising) is in violation of the copyright.

If I have any questions, where may I direct them?

    Many answers to license-plate ordering questions may be answered on the DMV ordering website at http://dmv.ca.gov/vr/vr_info.htm#BM2517 . We've noticed that specialty plates can sometimes take up to 10 weeks, if orders are backed up. If you're still stumped and need answers, please feel free to:
    • call the California Arts Council at (800) 201-6201 weekdays between 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
    • call Mary Beth Barber, communications director, at (916) 322-6588 during the same hours, or
    • email Mary Beth at mbarber@cac.ca.gov.

Over 60 percent of the California Arts Council's budget comes from sales and renewals of the Arts License Plate – funding that is used for arts programming for kids and communities all over the state. Now California's artists and arts lovers can proudly show their support of California arts via the California Arts License Plate.

There are a variety of ways to help support the plate – place print advertisements in performing arts programs, distribute Arts License Plate flyers, broadcast the animated public-service announcement featuring Annette Bening, or good old-fashioned word of mouth.

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