A woman in a floral shirt with shoulder length hair smiles.
Communications Director
Three people pose in front of a banner with the Arts Advocacy Day logo
Julie Richard/Maine Arts Commission, Randy Cohen/AFTA, and Cathy Edwards; photo by Ann Wicks

On March 4-5, 2019, NEFA executive director Cathy Edwards and I joined arts professionals from across the country for the annual National Arts Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by Americans for the Arts. This is our formal opportunity to remind our legislators of the importance of the sector and how they can continue to support it.

The first day of the summit always includes briefings on the budget request for the NEA and NEH as well as other 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 support for the sector by Congress.  The learning on day one is aimed at preparing advocates for day two of the summit: Arts Advocacy Day on the Hill, an opportunity to meet with representatives of our elected officials to make our case for the sector.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Cathy Edwards smiling
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Cathy Edwards; photo by Ann Wicks

Arts Advocacy Day kicked off in the Dirksen Senate Office Building with remarks by many officials in support of the arts: Chellie Pingree (D-ME), chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus; acting NEA Chairman Mary Anne Carter; and artists Rita Moreno, Ben Folds, and Brian Stokes Mitchell were among the speakers. 

From there, led by our state captain Emily Ruddock from MASSCreative, we met with representatives from Congressman Jim McGovern’s office and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s office. Our group also included Judith Hoglander of the City of Gloucester Committee for the Arts, Lynn Nichols of Country Dance and Song Society, Allentza Michael of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Rob Southworth of School Works Lab, and Susan Ryan-Vollmar and her daughter. We had a fruitful meeting with Senator Markey’s office, and then split up to ensure contact with the rest of the Massachusetts delegation.

Woman at a podium smiling while another woman adjusts the microphone
Acting NEA Chair Mary Anne Carter is aided by Rita Moreno; photo by Ann Wicks

It was a pleasure to start our meetings by thanking our officials for their past support of arts and culture. We asked that our representatives support the FY20 NEA/NEH budget request of $167.5 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 join the Congressional Arts Caucus and the Senate’s Cultural Caucus. We took photos!

We look forward to the 2020 Arts Advocacy Day.

A group of people standing together in a conference room
The Massachusetts delegation with representatives from Jim McGovern and Ayanna Pressley's office.