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Arts educators seek helping hand, straight from your tax form

Elemental Strings students prepare for a class on Tuesday at McKinley Elementary School. The school is one of several facilities the Santa Monica-Malibu School Board rents out for events.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Students prepare for a class at McKinley Elementary School in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

For the second year in a row, Californians have a chance to support arts education funding while filing their taxes.

With Wednesday's deadline looming, taxpayers can choose to make voluntary contributions of $1 or more on the state personal income tax return form.

The effort called the "Keep Arts in Schools Fund" followed Gov. Jerry Brown's approval of a bill in 2013 paving the way for taxpayers to donate to arts education.

RELATED: Arts education donations make a comeback on California's tax return form

The contributions go directly to arts education programs, said Caitlin Fitzwater, a California Arts Council public information officer. The fund is one of the council's primary sources of revenue, along with a statewide arts license plate program that raises money for arts in the schools.

For the arts education donation option to remain on the tax form in future years, a minimum of $250,000 must be raised this year. Last year, there was no minimum requirement, and donations totaled $256,421. Donations through March of this year are down 7 percent compared to last year.

Minimums have gone unmet in the past. In the 2011 tax year, contributions to what was then called the "Arts Council Fund" didn't reach the $250,000 required threshold and the option was left off the tax form in 2012. The choice to contribute to arts education was restored with approval of the 2013 measure.

Details on how to donate to the arts via the state tax form are available on the California Arts Council's website. Tax returns must be postmarked by Wednesday.