By Patricia Frischer
I was at a meeting recently and the chairman was absent. When asked for a progress report on an upcoming event from one of the staff, the response was that they were waiting for direction from the chairman. He was told that was not necessary and that he has the committee permission to design and implement the project himself. This galvanized him into action and within 24 hours the event was more or less organized and being promoted.
The staff member was fully capable before this empowerment. He had all the skills necessary to complete the task although the rest of the staff made positive and encouraging suggestions. So what held him back from moving forward? I believe it was a lack of belief in self, coupled with the daily interruptions that draw our attention away from a task that might be more important than we realize. In other words, this event needed to have a priority in his mind and he needed to bring his considerable skills to this task, decisions he had to make himself.
We can all find ourselves in this position at various times in our lives. But I think right now, it is particularly important to make decision on a personal level about how we can move our community forward. Yes, we need to all work together, but each of us has to make a decision about how we can individually lead an effort. I would love to see people taking initiative and coming forward with ideas that we can all support and promote. I believe there is a leader in each and everyone of us.
So now I make a call to empower everyone in the arts community to lead a project that support public art policies and helps to increase the awareness of the value of art. Small or large, a single effort or a partnership, I want you to feel that you can make a difference and, in fact, it is only with your own advocacy for the arts, that we will survive at a time when arts funding might be increasingly under attack.
March 20–21, 2017 is Arts Advocacy Day and we are celebrating it with a banner on the home page of SDVAN. Each year arts advocates from across the country convene in Washington, DC for the annual Arts Advocacy Day. This effort brings together a broad cross section of America's cultural and civic organizations, along with more than 500 grassroots advocates from across the country, to underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts.