Wednesday, January 11, 2012
List your statewide event in the Community Calendar
Systematic contact with legislators is a key ingredient of successful arts advocacy. Because January is the month in which many state legislatures will reconvene and begin working on fiscal year 2013 budgets, this edition of State to State is dedicated to toolkits produced by state arts agencies to help their grantees:
thank legislators for their support,
acquaint elected officials with arts activities in their districts,
provide appropriate acknowledgement of state arts agency funding, and
illustrate the impact and results of state arts agency support.
To facilitate such actions, several state arts agencies* have published advocacy guides or other "how-to" materials designed to encourage systematic communications between arts grantees and elected officials. Here are some examples.
Building Public Value for the Arts in Arizona: Advocacy, Promotion and Audience Engagement, produced by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, features sample thank-you letters, advocacy tips and suggestions for telling a persuasive story. Also included are talking points useful when discussing the importance of the arts during tough economic times.
The Massachusetts Cultural Council maintains a comprehensive Advocacy section on its website. In addition to providing legislative updates throughout the year, this site includes information on how state budgets are formulated, case-making advice and summaries of key research on the impact of the arts in Massachusetts.
Advocacy 101 is a beginner's guide to legislative outreach published by New Mexico Arts. This document defines key advocacy terms, orients readers to the New Mexico legislature, and provides guidance on appropriate and effective ways to contact elected officials.
The Vermont Arts Council serves as both the state arts agency and the locus for cultural advocacy in the state. The Advocacy resource area of the Council's website outlines a compelling case statement for public support of the arts in the state, shares advocacy alerts and provides handy contact information for elected officials.
Some grantees think, "I am a nonprofit so I am not allowed to lobby." To debunk this myth and clarify the laws governing nonprofits and lobbying, the Texas Commission on the Arts has published a succinct Lobbying and the Law for Nonprofits fact sheet.
State arts agencies publish publicity kits that include helpful advocacy tips as well as credit and acknowledgement guidelines.
Produced by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Give Us Some Credit! recommends steps that grantees can take to make elected officials, the media and the public aware of the impact of state funding for the arts.
The Ohio Arts Council's comprehensive Credit and Publicity Responsibilities website provides parameters for crediting state arts agency support, tips for engaging elected officials and a practical News Media Resource Guide.
Many state arts agencies link to NASAA advocacy tools from their websites and in their publicity guides. Especially helpful editions to cite include:
* Note: State to State focuses on materials, programs and policies produced by state arts agencies. Several statewide arts advocacy organizations have published advocacy toolkits, too. For examples of these, contact the NASAA office.