Advocating for the Arts by Contacting Members of Congress

Arts Advocacy Day

I was in Washington last week for Arts Advocacy Day where I met the legislative staff for 8 congress-people and 2 senators. The process includes a day of organizing by state, reading and understanding the briefing book put out by Americans for the Arts, and a second day where the state teams are up on the hill for pre-arranged meetings with each member of congress. It was an amazing experience that confirmed how our democracy still works.

Preparing for Advocacy

I can’t emphasize enough that the Americans for the Arts (AFTA) are very good at supporting this process. On Monday 600 advocates from around the nation gathered at an all day briefing session hosted by AFTA. On Tuesday, those six hundred spread out all over the capital to make their case in less than fifteen minutes for each meeting! The preparation consists of a massive briefing book, the detailed asks for congress, the identification of how money, GDP, and the arts are central to American life, and includes role plays with real state government representatives who then coached the whole group on how to approach, how to be polite, how to ask up front, how to support and how to be interrupted by the busy congress people. Very useful briefings!

On the Hill

We started with House of Representatives Lynch and Kennedy, moved on to Senators Warren and Markey, then finished up in the afternoon with House of Representatives Tsongas, Clark, Capuano, Moulton, Neal, McGovern and Keating. Whew! The legislative staff and interns were very polite, welcoming, and efficient. They took our material and listened to our stories. We thanked the members of congress for their work and advocated them to support 155 million for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Arts Appropriations

  1. National Endowment for the Arts, 155 million.
  2. IMLS office of Museum Services, 38.6 million.
  3. Assistance for Arts Education at US Department of Education, 30 million.
  4. Well-rounded Education, fully funding 1.6 billion for student support and academic enrichment grants in Title IV.
  5. After-school 1.1 billion funding of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  6. Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 445 million
  7. Public media, 55 million
  8. Office of Citizen Exchanges, US State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, 115 million

Arts Issues

  1. Creative Economy, cosponsor the CREATE ACT (S. 661. H.R. 1649) to invest in the country’s workforce and creative economy.
  2. Arts in Health, support research and programs around art therapy
  3. Arts and the Military, support H.R. 102, Expanding Care for Veterans Act, improve access to art therapy for returning vets
Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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