Ballet Austin - Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project, photo by Tony Spielberg

Arts Advocacy Interim Challenge

Are you looking to make a difference? Are you excited about arts advocacy but don't know where to start? Texans for the Arts has launched the Arts Advocacy Interim Challenge to help you take the plunge and take action.

We know that arts advocacy can feel pretty daunting. There are so many issues to address and so little time! It can be hard to know which actions have a measurable impact. And it is easy to feel like if you're not part of a visible movement like a huge protest or rally, that you won't be heard. But the cliche is true - movements begin one voice at a time. Small actions, such as posting about the arts on social media or researching your elected officials go a long way. The more you invest in actions that generate awareness and build relationships between you and key decision-makers in your community, the more sustained impact you'll have. And as we prepare for next year's elections, the time to connect with those officials and candidates in the running is NOW. Remember, as their constituents, you give your elected officials power and support - so they want to hear from you!

Check out our Arts Advocacy Interim Challenge below and follow along to identify who your legislators are, learn something about them, hone your arts-impact-stories, do some research on economic impact, and more!  

And don’t forget to use #TXforthearts and #TXartsmatter to keep us informed on your progress, to tag us on FB and Twitter, and to complete and submit your "Google Form" at the end of every challenge! Your responses will be emailed back to you, which will help you consolidate your research. This way, we can learn from you and share the successes and opportunities you experienced! We have also created this Community Advocacy Toolkit with helpful resources and templates to support your work.

Let us know how you’re doing and reach out with questions, ideas, successes and challenges! Advocacy is all about sharing your passion for your work and ensuring your decision makers recognize the critical impact of the arts in our lives and in our communities! 

Thank You and Here We Go!



Who Represents Me?

Challenge 1: Find out which districts you are in and who your elected officials are, as well as any prospective candidates for office. These should include your federal senators and representatives, state senators and representatives, city council members, judges, school board officials, and anyone else who is elected to represent you. This is a good place to start your search! AND register to vote here if you are not currently registered.

Next, find out more about them. As you are researching, we have a Google Form to guide you. Look at what they are interested in. What committees and caucuses are they a part of? Are they a veteran? What job did they have before getting elected? Gathering this information about your elected officials will help you discover which aspects of the arts they might connect to and help you start to build relationships with them. A great place to start is here at the Texas Legislature Online (TLO). (Bonus: When the legislature is in session, you can sign up for committee and bill alerts on the TLO site too!).

 


Social Butterfly

Challenge 2: Like your elected officials on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Then, take a look at the research you discovered in the Day 1 challenge. Post an article on Facebook/Twitter related to arts policy and advocacy that might resonate with your elected officials based on their interests and tag them! For example, if they have a health policy background, post an article about the arts and health and healing. You can also tag us @Texansforthearts and #TXforthearts! Here are some great places to start:

"10 Reasons to Support The Arts" by Randy Cohen at Americans for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts' Facebook page
The Texas Commission on the Arts' Facebook page
Artplace America's Facebook page

For organizations: Add your representatives to your arts organization’s mailing lists! Invite them to your gallery openings, performances, and galas.

Use this Google Form to guide you as you research and report back.


Money Talks

Challenge 3:  The arts have a BIG impact on our lives, both economically and socially. Do some research on the economic and social impact of the arts. This can be at the national, state or local level. Americans for the Arts’ website is a great place to start for information about national arts policy. Or check out the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) for the US, NCAR (Center for Arts Research) at SMU, or National Endowment for the Arts, or the BEA for TexasHere is a good place to look for NEA grants in your district.

Check out how BIG these economic data points are!  Let your legislators know that the arts aren’t the icing on the cake. They are not for just when there is extra money to be spent (when is that?)! The arts are a critical part of our national, state and municipal economies and create jobs, attract businesses and employees, and so much more!

Use this Google Form to guide you as you research and report back.

Then, share an impressive or surprising statistic or tidbit you learned on social media and tag TFA (@Texansforthearts and #TXforthearts) and your legislators!


The Arts & ...

Challenge 4:  Research how the arts support and enhance the work of other fields, such as education, public health, juvenile justice, veterans care and the sciences. Find out if the arts are being used in these other sectors in your own community. A good place to start is Americans for the Arts or the National Endowment for the Arts.

Use this Google Form to guide you as you research and report back.

Then, post an example you discovered on social media and tag TFA (@Texansforthearts and #TXforthearts) and your legislators!


Branch Out

Challenge 5: Research a local school or organization that offers arts programming. Ideally, this school or organization is one in your Texas legislative or congressional district. Look up the arts programming they offer and how you might get involved, either as a volunteer or a patron. Set up a time to visit the organization. Report your findings!

Use this Google Form to guide you as you research and report back.

Then, create a social media post about that school or organization and tag them, TFA (@Texansforthearts and #TXforthearts) as well as your legislators!


Craft Your Story

Challenge 6: Write a paragraph about the impact of the arts. If you were to write to your elected officials to convince them of the value of the arts in your community, what would you say? You can reference your research from the previous challenges and consider the following questions as you craft your case for the arts. How have the arts and arts organizations impacted your life or the lives of people you know? How do you see the arts provide value and meaningful opportunities in your community? How has arts funding, such as an NEA or Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) grant or Municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds made an initiative or program possible in your community? Be as specific as possible.

Use this Google Form to guide you as you research and report back.

Then, post a compelling line from your story on social media and tag TFA (@Texansforthearts and #TXforthearts) and your legislators. OR if you're feeling so passionate, post your story on your own website or blog or your organization's website or blog!


Connect the Dots

Challenge 7: Share your story! Reach out to your legislators and local officials tell them why the arts matter to you and your community. Take a look at our Toolkit for different ways to contact your representatives. You could give them a call, send them an email, write them a letter, set up a meeting or host an event and invite them. Our Toolkit includes templates to help you get started.

Use this Google Form to guide you as you research and report back.

And once you've made contact, remember to keep in touch! This can be through social media, invitations to events and follow up meetings. Keep the relationship alive and well throughout the year so that when the legislative session begins and we need your voice in the Capitol, we are ready together!  


Sharing is Caring

Challenge 8: Share your experience! Tell your friends about TFA’s Arts Advocacy Interim Challenge and encourage them to participate. You can do this by word of mouth, through social media, or by email. We also want to know how we can continue to support your advocacy efforts throughout the year. We look forward to hearing your feedback and thank you for helping the arts thrive in your community!

Use this Google Form to share your thoughts.


 

Bravo! Now that you have completed the Arts Advocacy Interim Challenge, consider how this information can be useful in your community year-round to ensure that our elected officials realize the impact of the arts and the value they bring to their district. If you aren't already signed up for Texans for the Arts newsletters and Action Alerts, click here.  We'll keep you up to date about state and federal arts policy, opportunities to stay engaged in advocacy, and ways to be part of our grassroots effort to increase the public investment in the arts!  In addition, you'll be invited to attend the Texas Arts Advocacy Day in 2019 and join us at the national level every March in Washington, D.C. for National Arts Advocacy Day!  Stay engaged and make sure your voice is heard!

 

Thank you!