Tuesday, January 30, 2024

SDVAN Summary: Americans for the Arts Advocacy 101 - Advocating for the Arts in 2024

by Patricia Frischer


Find out what elected official cares about and then relate your stories to that issue. 

A new series Advocating for the Arts in 2024 presented by Americans for the Arts with webinars on advocacy was just launched.  I have listened to the first one which was 1 ½ hours and made a brief summary for you. But I recommend that you watch the video yourself if you are wanting to advocate for funding or get your message out.


They worked to make the process easy and make everyone comfortable so that an army of advocates can make sure that the arts are fully supported.  One voice can make a big difference, and a united voice can be very powerful.

Start by finding out who your elected officials are. You can find them all on the Americans for Arts Website just by entering zip code.  You are important to them because you can vote for them. Or your organizations make a difference in their district. Or your audiences come from their districts.  

You can make contact with every local city, state, county and federal elected delegates and their staff.  Remember they are real people are at the other end of the phone or email. So, use their names, especially the staffers when contacting them. All offices have processes for meeting online and in person, plus you can attend town halls meetings or meet and greet.  You can also invite them to visit your organization.

When you visit make sure you are prepared. what are your three top issues.  Tell a personal story, maybe a problem that you have so they know what needs fixing. Better still, present the fix as well. Use data (like from the recent AEF6 report) to support your position. Gear the presentation to who you are speaking to so if meeting with local official, speak about local issues. For example, you might show that programs that support equity issues still have a positive economic value for the community.

Leave paper summarizing and adding more information when you leave. But remember to thank them and take a picture before you go to post on social media.

What you are doing is building a relationship network of people so add then to your mailing list and invite them to stuff. Schedule a follow up if needed. If they ask you how much, be prepared to quote a number. It must be a reasonable ask.

Advocacy is about telling your story and educating other about what matters to you in the arts. So, your authenticity and passion are your best tools. If elected officials don’t hear from us, they think everything is OK.

Start young and make advocacy for the arts part of your everyday life.  if you have trouble with the process of getting help, tell them that, as a starting place. Put your issue in social media or a newsletter. Group with other like-minded people to have a strong voice

For the biggest success, find out what elected official cares about and then relate your stories to that issue. There is a super tool for this on the Arts in American website. But find out what their position is by asking them. Then make sure what you ask for will not keep them from getting elected!

If you can identify a problem and a real solution in an existing bill, tell the personal story, supported by data, you can be really effective.

The arts are nonpartisan…not left, right or center.  They secret weapon of the arts is that they unite people.

In north and east and south counties we don’t have a lot of hotels so the Tax On Tourist (TOT) does not amount to much. A percentage for the arts only applies to large government building which have to include art in their building budgets, but those are not often found outside of the City of San Diego.

After watching and listening to this seminar, I realized we could advocate for a local cultural sales tax in our county. California has one of the lowest spending on the arts per capita in the USA at well under a dollar. It is time to get the funding we really need.

Here is an example of what you could do in the next 30 days. 

And here is the schedule for future webinars. 

No comments:

Post a Comment