NEFA at Arts Advocacy Day 2018
On March 12-13, 2018, I joined a passionate delegate of arts professionals from across the country for Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. to remind our legislators of the importance of federal support for the arts.
The first day included briefings on the budget request for the NEA and other cultural agencies and major issues, including tax policy, arts and healthcare, and net neutrality. It’s a lot to digest, but the congressional handbook is a must-have resource to understand at a glance – and understand the history of arts support for all of Congress. Massachusetts State Senator Stan Rosenberg, an advocate for the arts, generously staged a mock congressional meeting and answered attendees’ questions on effective outreach strategies. We were prepared for the next day’s meetings on the Hill!
With appointments at all 11 Massachusetts members of Congress' offices, arranged by our state captain Emily Ruddock from MASSCreative, I joined an enthusiastic team, including Nick Bazo of The Theater Offensive, Robin Hayden of Country Dance and Song Society, Mark Murphy of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and Rob Southworth of School Works Lab. Though we had not had the opportunity to work together before, we quickly organized – and were off!
It was a pleasure to be able to start our meetings by thanking our officials for their past support of arts and culture. We asked that they support the FY19 NEA budget of $155 million, sharing statistics on the economic impact and jobs in the sector on a national level. We shared stories from our work locally, and encouraged officials to sign the Dear Colleague letter and/or join the Congressional Arts Caucus. We took photos!
After returning home, it was heartening to learn of the FY18 Omnibus spending bill passing in Congress at $152.85 (an increase!), and about the record number of officials who have signed onto the “Dear Colleague” letter – 166 Democrats and Republicans - initiated by the late Senator Louise Slaughter.
I look forward to Arts Advocacy Day 2019!