As an Organization, Why Advocate at the Federal Level?
As a local arts organization, your organization can make a difference in conveying the impact of the arts and arts education in your communities to members of Congress. Without your help, your member of Congress may not realize the ability of the arts to support jobs, engage kids in school, and change lives in your district. You have the power to educate them about the importance of the arts in your community and to engage them on important arts issues on Capitol Hill. We want to make it easy for you to take action, build relationships with your representative's office, and highlight the advocacy work you are doing in your community.
Want to take action, but aren't sure where to begin? We've put together some sample resources for you to customize and start advocating today! Below, you’ll find five easy ways to get in touch with your member of Congress.
- Not sure who your representative is? Visit the Action Center and enter your zip code to identify your senators and representative and their contact information.
- Confused about how your organization can lobby effectively and what you can say legally as an organization versus what you can’t? Download the power point presentation Rules of the Road (pdf, 947 KB) to learn the difference between advocacy and lobbying.
- Need more clarification? We've compiled this memo guide to the gift rules: Doing Local Events w/ Members of Congress – What You Need to (Legally) Know (pdf, 180KB).
Six Ways to Reach Out to Your Members of Congress
1. Invite your members of Congress to learn more about your organization and develop a connection with their office.
- Make a habit of sending invitations for exhibition openings, performances, educational workshops, and more to your member of Congress. If possible, invite them to give brief remarks. Download this sample invite (pdf, 82 KB) as a guide.
- Follow-up on your invitation with a phone call to the district office. If they are unable to attend, ask for a meeting when they are back in the district.
2. Remind your member of Congress about the impact of the creative industries in your district.
- Login to the website to download a customized Creative Industries map for your county showing arts-related jobs and businesses.
- Make sure your legislator is aware of the presence of these creative organizations and the jobs they support.
3. If you are a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant, let your representative know what a difference your NEA grant made for you and your community. Download a sample letter (pdf, 255 KB) as a guide.
4. Meeting with your Representative or their staff in person? Here are some quick questions to ask:
- Are they a member of the Arts Caucus in either the Senate or House? Caucus list as of May 2015 for Senate (pdf, 10 KB) and House (pdf, 69 KB).
- If not, ask them to join with these simple forms for Senate (pdf, 75 KB) or House of Representatives (pdf, 11 KB).
- Will they vote to support the National Endowment for the Arts in this year’s appropriations bill (pdf, 266 KB)?
- Will they protect the charitable deduction (pdf, 249 KB)?
5. Visit the Americans for the Arts Action Fund website for online tools including customizable letters you can send your representative about current legislative issues.
- Start by entering your zip code and customize the template letter we've written on topics ranging from NEA appropriations to arts education funding.
6. Does your organization have arts advocacy programs? Take advantage of the same tools Americans for the Arts uses for online advocacy and become a Voter Voice Affiliate to get access to this tool to boost your local advocacy efforts. Contact State and Local Government Affairs Coordinator Elisabeth Dorman for more information.
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