California has one of the largest Armenian Diaspora communities. The American Communities Survey of 2020 reported 252,679 Armenians in the state, just over half the Armenians in the United States. There are 155,237 Armenian speakers in California.
Some of the major Armenian populations are in:
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- Hollywood (where Little Armenia area has been designated)
Armenian Public Art in California
California is one of the few places outside of Armenia to offer public art that does not relate to the subject of Genocide. These include the statues of William Saroyan (1950) and David of Sassoun (1950) in Fresno by the artist Varaz Samuelian.
Other examples from California include the work of Armenian artist Henry Lion (1900-1966) who created public art for the city of Los Angeles. His work includes the bronze doors to the Los Angeles City Hall's Spring Street entrance; the Pioneer Fountain in Carthay Circle; the Power of Water fountain in Lafayette Park; the eagle medallion on the Federal Courthouse; the Cabrillo statue in San Pedro; and the bronze statue of Felipe de Neve (1932).
Another example from California include the artist, May Sun (Escudero-Fribourg Architect Team), who designed the Hollywood/Western Station of the Metro Rail (1999) that feature Armenian symbols on the floors of the station (alongside Mayan and Chinese pictograms).
California Trade Office in Armenia
Scott said the office would create favorable conditions for Armenian businessmen to sell their products in California, home to a 500,000 strong Armenian community, and that Armenia would in return, be able to import the latest technology in such sectors as IT, biotechnology, and architecture.
According to the U.S. Commerce Department's International Trade Administration, U.S. exports to Armenia in 2006 totaled $80.4 million. New York ranked first in exports to Armenia that year with $29.4 million in exports. California, with $25.2 million, was second.
The California International Trade office will be housed temporarily in the premises of the Armenian Development Agency (ADA) until a separate building is found.
Legislation authorizing the California Armenia Trade Office (CATO) was premised on Senator Scott's pledge that no public funds would be used to support or operate CATO. Funding was supposed to come entirely from private donations. However, because of sparse financial support from the Armenian-American community in California, the state's Yerevan office has been forced to operate on a budget of less than $2,000 per month, according to a state Senate committee analysis. Proponents have recently sought to persuade the U.S. Congress to allocate $200,000 from next year's foreign aid package for Armenia to the office. While thought to be unlikely, such an allocation would effectively transform CATO from an office dedicated to promoting trade between California and Armenia to one with a mandate to promote trade between Armenia and all fifty states. Proponents have not explained how such an office would differ in purpose from the role U.S. Commerce Department currently plays in Armenia. Nor have proponents explained why such an office should continue to operate under the aegis of the State of California.