Message from President & CEO Robert Lynch
From September 13-19, 2015, arts education supporters across the country celebrated National Arts in Education Week. With more than 250 local events throughout the country, parents, students, educators, and other members of the arts and education communities decided to celebrate, advocate, and participate.
The hasthtag #ArtsEdWeek went viral with tens of thousands of impressions. Many local, state, and national groups passed formal recognitions of the week, including the National Lt. Governors Association and states like Delaware, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. For a full wrap up and more information on National Arts in Education Week 2016, check out www.AmericansFortheArts.org/ArtsEdWeek.
On September 29, National Endowment for the Arts celebrated its 50th anniversary and began posting stories from individuals across the country who shared what the arts have meant to them. I was also honored to attend a commemorating event at the White House on October 14th with President Obama and the First Lady, which celebrated 50 years of arts excellence.
As we close out 2015, I want to urge all Arts Action Fund members to contribute to our Year-End Appeal to raise $50,000 by December 31. We will use these funds to continue our grassroots efforts to impact the presidential elections and produce programs at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. We’ll be mobilizing our grassroots constituents to weigh in on the most important legislative agendas impacting the arts and arts education in our nation’s capital and in state and local legislatures across the country. We need your support to build the political clout to reach a million Arts Action Fund members and to raise $250,000 this election cycle to support as many pro-arts congressional candidates as possible. Please go to our website to make your year-end gift now.
Advocates Gather at Iowa Arts Advocacy Caucus
Every four years, extraordinary national media and political attention is placed on the first two presidential early primary/caucus states in the country: New Hampshire and Iowa. Presidential candidates spend substantial time in these states in an effort to court voters and learn more about the policy issues that the residents in these states care about most. As a result, an opportunity is created for arts advocates living in these two influential states to have meaningful discussions about the state of the arts today, the needs for the future, and the economic opportunities for growth.
On August 14, 2015, the Arts Action Fund created a successful national, state, and local partnership of the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education, the Iowa Arts Council, Bravo Greater Des Moines, National Association of Music Merchants, and The U.S. Conference of Mayors to produce a first-ever, day-long Iowa Arts Advocacy Caucus training in Des Moines, coinciding with the opening weekend of the Iowa State Fair. We chose that date so we could engage the many presidential candidates stopping through that weekend to speak at the famous Soapbox at the Fair.
More than 200 arts advocates attended the conference, which was aimed at empowering and training Iowans to be more effective and active grassroots advocates for the arts whether they’re at a town hall meeting, a presidential caucus, or a Board of Education hearing. Several presidential candidates weighed in with their positions on the arts, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Governors Martin O’Malley and Mike Huckabee, Senator Rick Santorum, and Dr. Ben Carson.
To stay updated on what candidates are saying on the campaign trail, visit www.ArtsActionFund.org/pages/artsvote-iowa.
ArtsVote New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, the Arts Action Fund hired two political strategists and partnered with the New Hampshire Citizens for the Arts to train more than 50 grassroots arts advocates to be highly effective in engaging presidential candidates with the goal of ensuring that the next President of the United States understands the value of investing in the arts, these arts advocates are serving as all the nation’s eyes, ears, and voices on the ground in New Hampshire, the First-in-the- Nation primary state to vote on the presidential primaries.
At the training, we released our first fact sheet on Why the Arts Matter in New Hampshire for advocates to use when speaking with all presidential candidates, which includes valuable research on the impact of arts and arts education. Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch speaks at the Iowa Arts Advocacy Caucus in Des Moines.
To download the fact sheet and other resources, visit www.ArtsActionFund.org/pages/artsvote-nh.
#ArtsVote2016 Campaign Site Features Candidate Arts Memos
The 2016 presidential election is a chance for advocates like you to advance the arts at the highest level of American politics. The Arts Action Fund has created a new online advocacy toolkit as part of our comprehensive #ArtsVote2016 campaign.
Just go to www.ArtsActionFund.org/pages /ArtsVote2016 to find all the latest news, facts and figures, and social media buzz to effectively speak up for the arts this campaign season. With 18 major presidential candidates, it’s hard to keep track of who did what and when. That is why on the #ArtsVote2016 homepage we have published a Candidate Arts Memo for each candidate that details his or her history, viewpoint, and policy record with respect to the arts and arts education. At the end of each Memo is a sampling of customized questions that advocates are encouraged to pose to candidates, either at a campaign event or on social media. Remember to use the hashtag #ArtsVote2016 to join the conversation on Twitter.
This story was featured in our print newsletter. To view recent updates on ESEA and its impact on arts education, please view our blog post.
Appropriations Extended; Historic Opportunity for Arts Education
On September 30, 2015, Congress passed legislation to keep government agencies funded until December 11, including “level” funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. This short-term extension provides more time for Congress to reach a budget agreement. While funding disagreements continue, Congress is also working to advance an historic K-12 federal education overhaul. A select congressional conference committee has begun work to negotiate final legislation. If successful, it will be the first time in 14 years that new education policy has advanced, impacting a whole eneration of students. Combined, the competing House and Senate bills contain 13 arts-friendly provisions, including retaining the arts as a core academic subject.
The Arts Action Fund monitors arts policy at the federal level and helps bring citizens’ voices to the table when important arts issues are debated. For detailed legislative updates, please visit www.AmericansForTheArts.org/news-room/legislative-news.
The Maryland General Assembly restored an $800,000 mid-year cut to the state arts appropriation, bringing it up to the mandated level of $16.8 million for FY 2016. The Massachusetts House and Senate overrode Gov. Baker’s veto and approved $14.16 million-an increase of 16.7 percent-for the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
To view the state appropriations chart in full-size, please click here.
Members like you are making a huge impact on the 2016 presidential campaign by participating in our ArtsVote2016 campaign. Candidates as diverse as Bernie Sanders, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, and Hillary Clinton are coming out in support of the arts. Why are these national politicians making time out of their campaigns to speak about the arts? Because members like you are asking them! We are showing up at campaign events, sharing our stories on the web, and using the hashtag #ArtsVote2016 on social media-presidential candidates are taking notice. Here are just a few of the responses your advocacy has triggered. Click on each photo below for the full story.
Members like you are pushing presidential candidates from both parties to make pro-arts statements. But our work doesn’t stop here. We’ll be convening more advocacy trainings, publishing more news and information on our webpage, and continuing to advocate for pro-arts planks in both parties’ National Platform Statements. If you’d like to connect with any of the presidential candidates on social media, you can find all of their Twitter and Facebook handles on our website at www.ArtsActionFund.org. Remember to include #ArtsVote2016 when you tweet.