Economic uncertainty and political churn are intensifying the many strategic challenges facing state arts agencies today. NASAA has compiled this special resource area with tools designed to help state arts agencies take charge by:

How NASAA Helped

Susan Weiner

Susan Weiner

"When the Georgia Council for the Arts faced elimination, there was only one place I knew to call: NASAA. I knew they'd be there. I knew they'd have sage advice. I knew they'd have facts and figures. But most importantly, they had successful strategies to offer. I learned quickly in this position that reaching out to NASAA staff or consulting their publications was the most direct way to find the best answers in the shortest time frame."

Susan Weiner
Former Executive Director, Georgia Council for the Arts

Arni Fishbaugh

Arni Fishbaugh

"We had to respond to a scary restructuring proposal in a hurry. NASAA gave us information on other states, quotes from experts, and policy arguments that helped us make a credible case for our agency. And they responded right away when we called for help. Thanks, NASAA!"

Arni Fishbaugh
Executive Director, Montana Arts Council

Molly Pratt

Molly Pratt

"NASAA's always there when we need a smart sounding board or good information. Here in Tennessee, we know we can count on NASAA for advice that shows respect for both sides of the aisle. This year NASAA was extra helpful by conducting an on-line survey that will help us build support for the arts within the legislature."

Molly Pratt
Tennesseans for the Arts and*former chair, Tennessee Arts Commission

John Bracey

John Bracey

"The possibility of elimination has been an annual occurrence for my agency. Each time, NASAA has supported us. NASAA's research staff—often at a moment's notice—provided context using national funding trends and historical data about our agency. During an extremely tense budget cycle, we asked CEO Jonathan Katz to write a letter to our governor, opening the door for further conversations. Legislative Counsel Tom Birch's session at our first virtual conference gave inspiration to arts advocates across the state. NASAA's efforts on our behalf are among the reasons we are still here today."

John Bracey
Executive Director, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs

Mary Campbell-Zopf

Mary Campbell-Zopf

"During spring 2009, Ohio's tax revenues plummeted—a precipitous drop the state hadn't seen since the 1930s. Our agency faced a 47% reduction in its budget and a 40% reduction in staffing. Our board and staff were faced with some serious decisions about how to continue supporting the arts and culture in our communities. The customized funding and grant making report that NASAA created for us compared our agency's funding and grant making over time and to our peers. This provided context to our situation that both board and staff found incredibly useful as we worked through a difficult but necessary process."

Mary Campbell-Zopf
Deputy Director, Ohio Arts Council

Navigating Political Turnover

Many new governors and state legislators took oaths of office in 2011. For help initiating relationships with newcomers and educating them about the value of your agency, consult these key resources:

NASAA offers additional Advocacy Tools to you and your advocates.

Anticipating Policy Trends

As they make the transition from campaigning to governing, new elected officials are receiving volumes of trend analysis and recommendations from their own networks. NASAA recommends that state arts agencies stay attuned to these key sources:

Although the above sources strive for balanced analysis, strong partisan loyalties will shape state policy debates in the year ahead. To stay abreast of these forces, monitor the GOP Issue Briefings, the Democratic National Committee's platform page and the Tea Party's Contract From America blog.

Invoking the Facts

NASAA provides information to help you make the case for your agency and to document the importance of your work:

NASAA can help you cite compelling evidence of the benefits of the arts and state arts agencies by directing you to current research and experts in the field. For quick and customized assistance with any question, contact NASAA Chief Program and Planning Officer Kelly Barsdate.

Managing Crises

Crisis management requires unique communications and advocacy strategies. When things heat up in your state, call NASAA. We can help you by:

  • sharing lessons learned from other agencies that have overcome adversity;

  • being an informed, neutral and confidential crisis management advisor and helping you decide when and how to invoke assistance from the National Endowment for the Arts (contact NASAA Executive Director Jonathan Katz);

  • providing assistance with media inquiries (contact Communications Manager Sue Struve);

  • providing statistics (contact Chief Program and Planning Officer Kelly Barsdate);

  • contending with restructuring proposals (contact Chief Program and Planning Officer Kelly Barsdate);

  • crafting talking points, letters of support, testimony or funding justifications (contact Chief Program and Planning Officer Kelly Barsdate);

  • providing expert advocacy advice.

Other good crisis prevention and management resources from NASAA include Postcards from the Inferno: Lessons Learned from Recent Budget Battles and Facing Controversy: Arts Issues and Crisis Communications.

Looking Forward

NASAA monitors state arts agency innovations and adaptations and shares that information to help you make both short-term and long-term decisions strategically. For example, see:

As many state arts agencies who have called on NASAA know, NASAA's assistance is always tailored to your unique situation. Our communications principles guide NASAA's assistance to each individual agency, as well as our work on behalf of all state arts agencies at the national level.

Updated January 2011

NASAA's mission is to strengthen state arts agencies.
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