Not to sound cliché, but how is it the end of 2018 already?

Much has happened since last I wrote, including the 2018 Midterm Elections, in which:

  • Over 113 million citizens nationwide turned out to vote;
  • A record-breaking total of 107 women were elected to serve in Congress;
  • Democrats now control the U.S. House and Republicans retain hold of the U.S. Senate;
  • Key congressional arts supporters like Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) on Ways and Means Committee will be the new chairs;
  • At the state level, there will be 19 new governors, 27 new state legislative leaders, and 1,700 new state legislators—resulting in a 23% turnover; and
  • More than 2,000 women will serve in state legislatures in their upcoming sessions and will hold the majority in two state legislative chambers—the Colorado House and Nevada Assembly.

(You can read more here).

My reaction as I turned my wall calendar to December.

On top of getting out the vote for this year’s midterms, State Arts Action Network leaders had noteworthy advocacy gains in their communities.

Arkansas Celebrates First Statewide Arts Day

Arkansans for the Arts held its first annual Arts Advocacy Day on November 7, 2018 at the Arkansas State Capitol. More than 353 advocates came to voice support of the arts and culture sector as a leading creator of jobs in industries such as health, education, agriculture, and tourism. In the capitol, legislators visited 18 exhibitors that represented eight arts disciplines. During the event, Senator Joyce Elliot, recipient of the 2017 Public Leadership in the Arts award, introduced the establishment of the state’s first Legislative Arts Caucus. Arkansans for the Arts also provided advocacy training workshops, covering the topics such as creative economy, arts education, and grant opportunities, led by its board members and advisors. In addition, Arkansans for the Arts’ education committee organized a talent showcase, which included more than 432 students and teachers from elementary, middle, and high schools statewide.

Senator Joyce Elliott, Legislative Arts Caucus members, and Arkansans for the Arts board members celebrate Arts Advocacy Day 2018.

Arkansans for the Arts formed as a result of being selected to participate in Americans for the Arts’ State Policy Pilot Program. To learn more about the Arkansas team’s journey in establishing Arkansans for the Arts and their state policy pursuits, check out the case study here.

Iowa Cultural Coalition’s Rebirth

After a three-year planning period, the Iowa Cultural Coalition is being resurrected in the state of the Iowa. The rebirth of the organization started in 2015, when the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education (IAAE)—Iowa’s statewide arts education advocacy organization—and the Iowa Arts Council teamed with Americans for the Arts Action Fund to sponsor the Iowa Arts Advocacy Caucus. The mission of the Iowa Cultural Coalition is to organize Iowans to advocate for public investment in art and culture.

In addition, IAAE is collaborating with the Iowa Arts Council and the Iowa Department of Education to provide a state-wide professional development meeting on the newly adopted Iowa Academic Standards for the Fine Arts on June 20, 2019. This unique collaboration of these three arts organizations is providing continuing education for the arts community on arts standards.

New Jersey On Edge of Potential Arts Funding Increase

Arts advocates, led by ArtPride New Jersey, are still working hard to move Assembly Bill 3101 through the NJ Assembly, which would double arts funding support ($16 million to $32 million) and change the minimum allowed by New Jersey Hotel/Motel Occupancy Fee from $16 million to $28.6 million. The bill has already passed in the Senate but has not yet been placed for vote in the Assembly.

As further background, New Jersey recently passed a law taxing transient online rentals, and there is strong indication that revenue from this source will exceed budget projections and provide funds to increase appropriations. Thus, arts advocates are hoping that if Assembly Bill 3101 is passed and Governor Murphy signs the bill into law before the end of the session, then minimum appropriations for the state arts agency will be secured at the new increased level for the Fiscal Year 2020 state budget.

I wish everyone a joyous and restful holiday season and look forward to what the future holds for the state arts advocacy field in 2019!