This section is dedicated to helping you prepare to host an event with your elected officials. Know that you may need to modify and adapt some of these items based on your community, issues and audience. If you have further questions about how to set up your event, email firstname.lastname@example.org - we’re happy to help!
- Set the date, time and location -- Your legislators are home in their districts to attend events during the interim, so between legislative sessions would be a great time to host an event!
- Get approval from the venue -- If you’re hosting the event at your organization, you may just need the approval of your board. Check with the venue manager and follow all guidelines. If you’re using a public space, check with City Hall about the necessary permits.
- Choose a specific theme -- This could be “Strengthening the Arts in Our Schools” or “The Value of Art in Hospitals.” Make sure this event connects specifically to your community.
- Develop your messaging -- Before you put the word out, create a 2-3 sentence description about the event. List your goal(s) for the event, a couple of focal points for the conversation and information about who should attend (e.g. community leaders, local artists, parents). See our event description example for some ideas.
- Invite leaders in the subject area of your theme -- Even if it’s a casual meet-and-greet, it’s still important to have some experts who can speak powerfully to the event’s theme and issues. Use the 2-3 sentence event description in your email or phone call to them. See our sample script for ideas.
- Invite your elected officials and candidates -- Send their office a courteous and enthusiastic email or letter. Include the 2-3 sentence description you generated. Make sure you communicate why you value their presence at the event. See our sample email if you need some pointers. Use “Who Represents Me?” to find out your district and who your reps are! Click here for a list of the 2018 candidates!
- Invite the public! -- Share on TV, the radio, social media, your website, etc. Depending on the size of the event, you may want to set up online registration so you know how many to expect. We recommend making it free to the public. If you have invited Congressional members or Governors, check with their staff and security about them needing a list of registrants in advance.
- Day-Of -- Make sure the venue is clean and that all signage is clear. Depending on the event, you may provide lunch. Try to at least provide water and snacks. Make sure there is enough seating and that the venue is easily accessible (e.g. ramps, elevators if needed).
- Record It! -- Take short videos and photos if you can. Make sure you ask participants for permission to be recorded, and you may need elected officials to sign media release forms prior to the event.
- Share! -- Let your constituents know how successful your event was. Highlight great moments of conversation. You can post on social media, send out a newsletter, write an article, etc. Make sure you mail your elected officials a thank-you note! Don't forget to use #txforthearts and #txartsmatter.
Adapted from South Carolina Arts Alliance