August Arts Advocacy Challenge!

Posted by Lauren Cohen, Jul 31, 2019

So far, 2019 has been a banner year in the world of federal arts advocacy.

In February, Americans for the Arts President and CEO Bob Lynch testified before the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee when it held its first public witness hearing since 2015 to discuss the importance of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and other cultural agencies.

In March, over 500 advocates from across the nation came to Washington, DC, for the National Arts Action Summit where they had a full day of advocacy and legislative training followed by over 400 meetings on Capitol Hill with federal lawmakers.

Advocates from Connecticut met with Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (D-CT, center) on Arts Advocacy Day 2019.

Throughout the spring, we saw promising bipartisan benchmarks for support of an increased budget for the NEA in FY 2020, including: record numbers of signers for the annual “Dear Colleague” letters; passage of a $12.5 million increase to the NEA’s budget by the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee; and passage of this funding level by the full U.S. House. Read more about those successes in our Legislative Newsroom.

Now, we wait for the U.S. Senate to take up appropriations considerations this fall. However, our work advocating for pro-arts policies doesn’t stop with funding for the NEA. Americans for the Arts, along with national coalition partners, has pursued more federal legislative priorities this year than ever before.

  • For the first time, the Defense Department and Veterans Administration appropriations bills include language to increase support for creative arts therapists to treat servicemembers and veterans with traumatic brain injuries and psychological health conditions.
  • The Justice Department appropriations bill calls on the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention to include arts-based juvenile justice programs among its strategies and the RISE from Trauma Act includes provisions to boost arts programming in addressing children and families experiencing trauma.
  • The STAR Act seeks to reinstate flexibility to allow localities to incorporate art into federally-funded transit projects and facilities.
  • The CREATE Act is a package of pro-arts provisions to strengthen the creative economy and the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act seeks to adjust tax policy to support the business expenses of performing artists.

From tax policy to transit, healthcare to education, we’re working to ensure expanded arts access and opportunity throughout the country. You can get more information and send a message to your congressional delegation about any of these bills through our Action Center.

The U.S. Congress will take its traditional month-long recess in August. Members of Congress will be in their home states and districts holding town halls, making visits to local organizations and businesses, and taking meetings in their local offices.

Wondering how to continue your arts advocacy momentum during the long recess? Participate in the August Arts Advocacy Challenge to stay involved and make an impact. Here are three key ways to join in:

  1. Learn who your member of Congress is and register for their newsletter or follow them on social media. You can find out about local events and town hall meetings they’ll be holding while they’re home in your district during the month of August. Use our Action Center to quickly find your member of Congress.
  2. Sign up to receive our action alerts. We’ll send an email prompting you to contact your member of Congress to cosponsor several pieces of legislation that support the arts in America. It’s a quick and easy way to take action for the arts!
  3. Encourage your friends, colleagues, and neighbors to get involved. The power to effect change lies in the strength of grassroots efforts. Over 100,000 people took action in 2017 after the president first recommended an elimination of the NEA and other cultural agencies. We can continue to push for more pro-arts policies by encouraging more people to connect with their members of Congress. Share links to our Action Center and tell your advocacy story on social media using #artsadvocacy.

August is the perfect time to advocate for the arts right from your hometown. Get involved, stay engaged, and together we can work to support the arts in America!