Americans for the Arts presented the 31st Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy on Monday, March 12, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. in the Eisenhower Theater of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Fostering Diversity among Future Leaders in the Arts

I will never forget the day I first heard the phrase, “If you can see it, you can be it.” Fast-forward thirteen years, and these words ring true in the work I do to help facilitate the annual National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Collegiate Advocacy Summit and Hill Day. Over the past five years, more than 400 undergraduate students from across the United States have traveled to Washington, D.C., to learn leadership and advocacy skills from leaders in the field of music education. Additionally, and arguably most important, is the work these students do to advocate for the importance of music education to our elected officials during congressional office visits. The stories they tell and the passion they bring make all the difference when connecting a face to a name and cause for our representatives on Capitol Hill. These experiences often lead these young leaders and future music educators to report envisioning themselves as leaders and decision-makers—not only for the arts and arts education, but for our country and our world.

Advancing Diversity by Empowering the Arts in Our Nation’s Education Decision-making

As young people around the country return to school, educators take the helm of their classrooms, and educational leaders build learning communities that inspire creative and innovative teaching and learning, the arts education community along with public and private sector leaders join together once again to celebrate National Arts in Education Week. As this school year begins, local school districts and state education leaders have more resources and policies under their supervision than ever before. Our job is to encourage, enable, and empower advocates to get to the negotiating table to strengthen arts education! They need to hear from us. Starting this week, we should get arts education leaders at every table for every decision impacting education and certainly arts education from here on out! 

Pre-Election Activities for Arts Organizations

Recently, I sat down with former Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg to talk about what arts organizations should be doing in preparation of the upcoming elections. Here are highlights of our conversation.

Happy New School Year

New beginnings are a good time to establish changes, take risks with new ideas, challenge the status quo, and support and celebrate your community of arts education and educators. Since it’s a new year I’d like you to consider two topics: Advocacy and Leadership. What is your role as an advocate for arts education? Who do you know that has taken a leadership role impacting the quality of arts education? What are you doing and saying as an arts educator or arts education advocate to support quality programs—and access to them—for every learner from our pre-school children through adults? How do you use your voice and share the story that motivates others to understand why arts education is essential for all learners?

North Carolina State Legislature Forms Arts Caucus and Increases Arts Grants

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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Arts North Carolina launched a new legislative campaign in early 2018 that aims to increase state arts grants by nearly 60%, from $6.3 million to $10 million; and collaborated on the creation of the Caucus for the Arts and Arts Education in the NC House of Representatives.

Remembering to Celebrate the Victories: State Arts Action Network Members’ Advances for the Arts and Arts Education

First, I want to acknowledge that the past few months have been tough; it seems like anytime I refresh my web browser, there’s more bad news happening in our nation. Personally, I find some solace in the work that we as arts advocates do at the federal, state, and local levels in advancing the healing and transformative power of the arts and arts education. I think it’s important to remember the positive moments and for us to celebrate the victories that we as a field are achieving. In that spirit, I want to share with you a few stories about the current advocacy successes at the federal and state levels, spearheaded by the State Captains, State Arts Action Network (SAAN), and their states’ advocates.

The “50 States Initiative” Utilizes Public Art to Bolster Civic Engagement

Artist-run organization plans to mobilize public art to encourage political participation in the U.S.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

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The artist-run American nonprofit For Freedoms has announced the launch of “The 50 State Initiative,” a nonpartisan political and artistic campaign that will utilize public art to spark political engagement. Spanning the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, the campaign’s focal point is the planned installation of political billboards in all 50 states, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

Schools Must Be Safe Places for Students to Learn and Pursue Their Passions

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A nation plagued by school shootings watched the horror play out yet again in Southeast Texas when eight Santa Fe High School students and two teachers were killed and 10 others were wounded recently in the worst school shooting since the February assault on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Many of these victims were in an arts classroom making art at the time. Schools must be safe places for students to learn and pursue their passions in the arts and beyond. 

Americans for the Arts to Present Six Awards for Arts Leadership

Honorees to Be Recognized June 16 at Americans for the Arts’ Convention in Denver, CO

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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Americans for the Arts announced today the recipients of the 2018 Americans for the Arts Leadership Awards. Given annually, these awards recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations committed to enriching their communities through the arts.

NEA Proposed at $155 Million in House Bill

$2 Million Funding Increase!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

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Under the leadership of Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Ranking Member Betty McCollum (D-MN), both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) are proposed at $155 million for FY 2019 in the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee bill, a $2 million increase from 2018.

Arizona Arts Community Overturns State Arts Funding Cuts

Monday, May 14, 2018

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Arizona Citizens for the Arts rallied its advocates over Governor Doug Ducey's plan to eliminate $2 million in funding for arts grants, and the state legislature and governor heard from over 1,000 constituents speaking out against zeroing out state arts funding.

Oklahoma Arts Advocates In Solidarity with Teacher Walkout

Monday, May 14, 2018

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Partnering with Oklahoma A+ Schools, Oklahoma Art Education Association, and the Oklahoma Alliance for Arts Education, hundreds of arts and arts education advocates came to promote arts education funding on April 11 within the bigger picture of the Oklahoma teacher walkout.

Americans for the Arts Congratulates Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), New Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair

Thursday, April 19, 2018

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At a special Capitol Hill reception on April 18 to honor and remember former Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), hosted by Americans for the Arts in conjunction with the Congressional Arts Caucus, U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) as the next co-chair of the Arts Caucus.

The Battle Wages On for the Arts

Our field collectively high-fived recently when Congress passed the long-delayed budget for fiscal year 2018. Together we beat back the Trump Administration’s proposals to terminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, funded now through September 30. Each will receive a total of $152.8 million, $3 million more a piece than last year. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, who passed away last month, was a fierce champion for the arts for decades, and this win is a very fitting tribute to her longtime leadership. It took the unified, tireless, and persistent work of the arts community and grassroots advocates nationwide to achieve this win. Strong activism resulted in a powerful bipartisan message that arts and humanities funding strengthens and enriches our communities and grows local economies. 

Remembering Louise (1929 – 2018)

On March 16, 2018, a dear friend, tireless advocate, and arts leader passed away, U.S. Representative Louise M. Slaughter. I have known Louise for 32 years. We’ve partnered in nearly that many Arts Advocacy Days. It has always been my honor to stand with Louise. I’ve stood with her on over 100 occasions in the last 23 years while she co-chaired the Congressional Arts Caucus. Americans for the Arts and the nation’s arts community owe a debt of gratitude to Louise Slaughter. There has never been an arts advocate with more tenacity, fight, humor, and spirit of generosity. May she rest in peace knowing that she made the world a better place through the arts, and may her trailblazing pave the way to more arts leaders recognizing the transformational power of the arts on our lives, communities, economy, and nation.

SAAN By Me: The Good Arts Advocacy Work Happening in Your States

Advocacy promoting arts and arts education funding and policy doesn’t just exist at the federal level. While the federal government funds the NEA at $152.3 million, state governments invest $357.5 million into state arts agencies. However, like the NEA, state arts agencies cannot lobby regarding appropriations, law, legislation, or policy, in their official capacity. Enter the State Arts Action Network—a professional development network of Americans for the Arts comprised of 53 state arts advocacy and service organizations from 42 states. SAAN members work around the clock advocating for pro-arts and pro-arts education funding and policies in their home states. Here’s just a sample of the great work happening at the state level! Here’s just a sample of the great work happening at the state level!

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