Alarmed by three years of declining funding for the California Arts Council, Angel City Press publisher Paddy Calistro and editor Donna Wares have organized the state's book community to produce a benefit anthology with all proceeds from the project earmarked for the cash-strapped arts council.

According to Calistro and Wares, the state has cut funding for the California Arts Council by 97% over the past three years. In response, the two organized an effort to publish My California: Journeys by Great Writers—an anthology featuring 27 prominent authors from the Golden State—which will be released in June.

"It blew our minds that the state of California designated three cents per person to the arts" each year, said Calistro. (For comparison, New York allocates $2.75 per capita and Mississippi, $1.31.) "We wanted to do something about it," said Calistro.

In November, Wares, who also edited the benefit anthology, posted an inquiry on her Web site to see if any authors would be willing to donate an essay about California for an anthology. The call brought responses from across the industry, everyone from designers to sales reps. Everyone involved in the project has donated their efforts so that the struggling California Arts Council will receive 100% of the sales.

Calistro enlisted the help of Bill Ralph, California sales rep for the Ann Arbor, Mich., printer Malloy Inc. "We happily agreed," said Ralph. The printer is donating the first printing of 5,000 copies to the cause, with the stipulation that the books be ready to display in its booth at BEA.

Contributors to the anthology include Michael Chabon, Thomas Steinbeck, Dana Gioia (poet and director of the National Endowment for the Humanities), Carolyn See, T. Jefferson Parker and Devorah Major.

"People don't realize how devastating the cuts have been," said Wares.

Since 1976 the California Arts Council has supported arts education, literary programs and small presses throughout the state.