The deadline to fill out the 2020 Census is fast approaching and the San Benito County Arts Council has come up with a creative way to wrestle with locals to register this year.
Bryan West, a teaching artist with the Arts Council, designed a vibrant, pop-culture inspired Census poster inspired from old lucha libre [Mexican freestyle wrestling] trading cards and colorful luchador masks.
“This was a really exciting project to work on,” he said. “Often when you are creating designs for a social cause or civic duty there is a desire to make everything look plain or ‘official.’”
The Arts Council on Sept. 11 announced in a press release that the Census posters, which were created in English and Spanish, were installed in bus shelters, county buses and will be displayed in storefronts, local schools and businesses through the end of September. The posters were paid for with funding from the California Complete Count-Census 2020.
The Arts Council, in coordination with Youth Alliance, Community Foundation for San Benito and County of San Benito, came up with the idea for the poster to encourage local residents, especially hard-to-count communities, to participate in the 2020 Census by Sept. 30.
“I appreciate that San Benito County, The Arts Council, Youth Alliance and Community Foundation wanted something more dynamic and playful,” West said. “The open-ended nature of this project freed me to create something that I really think will get people’s attention and hopefully motivate them to take action.”
Jennifer Laine, executive director at the San Benito County Arts Council, said in the press release that they noticed different arts-based activities that were taking place in other communities. She said San Benito County and nonprofit leaders got together to brainstorm opportunities to bring awareness with the goal of encouraging residents to fill out the Census before it’s too late.
An undercount of the population would have far-reaching consequences for San Benito County, according to Laine. She said every individual not counted can have an impact of $2,000 per year in lost resources; over a 10-year span that would be $20,000 for each individual not counted.
“The count needs to be accurate to display who we are, what we look like and what our needs are as these are a key factor in defining the distribution of resources to our country,” Laine said.
Local residents can go on the internet at my2020census.gov or call 1-844-330-2020 to get started. Those who prefer by mail can do so if they received a paper form.
The form asks for a name, address, sex, race and age and by law the responses to the census can’t be shared with any other government agencies, according to Laine. The responses cannot be used for law enforcement purposes and to determine eligibility for government benefits.
Census information can’t be shared with landlords, credit agencies and they will not ask about citizenship status, which means none of the information is shared with immigration enforcement.
Laine mentioned key points such as how the Census can define how many congressional seats are apportioned, how state and federal dollars are dispersed, redistricting and where businesses chose to open new stores.
Census data also informs billions of dollars in funding for essential programs like Head Start, childcare and nutrition programs, mental health programs, education and healthcare, parks and roads.
“The 2020 Census is so much more than just a head count,” Laine said. “It’s an opportunity for San Benito County to be counted.”