If the budget axe is coming your way...


Mobilize Your Supporters

If you are facing a government cut in funding, you need to galvanize the troops. If you can get a big showing at the city council meeting, it sends the message that a cut in arts funding will not come without noise and push-back from the community. Cuts are easiest to make when it is perceived that there are no consequences—the "low-hanging fruit" for legislators in tight budget times. It is imperative that the elected leaders hear from their constituents.


Membership in the
Americans for the
Arts Action Fund—the nation's premiere political organization for
the arts—is free. This is a simple
means of transforming your
audiences into advocates.
As individuals we
make a difference;
we are a movement.

Seven Easy Ways for Your Voice to be Heard:
  1. Face-to-face meetings
  2. Letters, faxes, e-mails
  3. Phone calls
  4. Special events and town hall meetings
  5. Print and electronic news media
  6. Coalitions and partnerships
  7. Testify at hearings
Identify Key Messengers

In addition to crowded council chambers and personal communiqués to key government officials, get your community leaders (e.g., business executives, school administrators, community foundation) to testify at hearings, make personal calls, or publish an Op-Ed in the newspaper. Their voice lends credibility and weight to your cause.

Determine Your Key Messages

You have many options about which case making strategies to lead with: quality of life, economic impact, tourism, education, and workforce and business development. You are in the strongest position if you can speak nimbly about as many benefits that the arts bring to the community as possible. In challenging times like these, you want your quiver packed with arrows.

We are in an economic downturn not seen in generations, and many of us need to prepare for possible reductions in arts funding. We are encouraging a message of "proportional cuts," however, and not draconian. It is not okay to cut the arts budget 40 percent while other agencies receive only 20 percent cuts.

When meeting with decision-makers,
keep in mind the following:

  1. Brief
    A legislator's time is limited.

  2. Strategic
    Research information about previous positions, voting records, and legislative and policy goals. Establish as many connections as possible between you and the decision-maker.

  3. Specific
    State the clear purpose and timeliness of your visit or communication

  4. Informative
    Give clear, local examples of why the measure should be supported or a proposed funding cut rescinded.

  5. Bold
    Ask for a particular action.

  6. Good listener
    Give the decision-maker a meaningful opportunity to state his/her position so you can begin a dialogue.

  7. Respectful
    Maintain a good working relationship regardless of outcomes. Do not treat meetings as a one-time opportunity; revisit issues on a regular basis. Become an information resource and cultural liaison to the decision-maker.

  8. Appreciative
    Acknowledge past support and always say thank you!