Friday, March 17, 2017

Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, today announces a schedule of events for its Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy and Arts Advocacy Day, as part of the National Arts Action Summit held March 20-21, 2017. Now in their 30th year, the events are presented by Americans for the Arts with 88 national organizational partners representing arts, culture, business, civic, and education institutions and individuals nationwide. This annual series of events is particularly important with recent news that the Trump Administration’s proposed FY2018 budget shows eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and other federal cultural agencies.
Monday, March 20: Legislative Training and Nancy Hanks Lecture
The two-day event kicks off at the Omni Shoreham Hotel with more than 650 grassroots arts advocates representing 50 states and the District of Columbia, learning about current arts issues circulating on Capitol Hill and how to become effective advocates for increased support for the arts. 
At 6:30 p.m., Ford Foundation President Darren Walker will deliver the Americans for the Arts 30th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy. His lecture, titled “The Art of Democracy: Creative Expression and American Greatness,” will be held in the Concert Hall of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City, will introduce Walker. The evening will also feature a special performance by actress, playwright and teacher Anna Deavere Smith.
Tuesday, March 21: Congressional Arts Kick Off and Hill Visits
The Congressional Arts Kick Off—at 8:30 a.m. in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building—is designed to rally advocates immediately before meeting with their members of Congress across the Capitol. During the event, the Congressional Arts Leadership Award will be presented to Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The award, which recognizes distinguished service on behalf of the arts, is part of a series of annual Public Leadership in the Arts Awards given jointly by Americans for the Arts and The United States Conference of Mayors. 
Americans for the Arts has bolstered its advocacy work through a #SAVEtheNEA campaign that has been trending on social media by reaching out to hundreds of thousands of arts advocates. As part of these efforts, a new advocacy video recorded by artists from Broadway, Hollywood, theatre, dance, and music will premiere at the Kick Off. A cover of the Beatles song “A Little Help From My Friends” was created to inspire support for the arts in America. 100% of net proceeds from this recording will go towards Americans for the Arts and their advocacy work to protect the NEA and support arts education.
Speakers at the Kick Off include: 
  • Ben Vereen, actor, dancer, singer
  • Brian Stokes Mitchell, actor, composer, vocalist, and Americans for the Arts Board member
  • Gabrielle Ruiz, actress
  • Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
  • Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), co-chair of the Senate Cultural Caucus
  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Democratic Leader
  • Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), co-chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus
  • Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus
  • Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), co-chair of the STEAM Caucus
  • Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts
  • Peggy Plympton, deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Stan Rosenberg, Massachusetts State Senate President
  • Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts
Following the kickoff, Ben Vereen, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Gabrielle Ruiz and other artists will join more than 650 arts advocates to make pre-scheduled Congressional visits to advocate for the arts and arts education. 
“The continued impact and growth of Arts Advocacy Day is the result of collaborative work between arts groups and their partners in government across the country. Because of the commitment from Congress, our sector has been able to respond to the challenges of modest and often depleted private, state, and local governmental funding sources in supporting nonprofit arts programming and education initiatives in our communities,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Arts Advocacy Day is the largest gathering of its kind and brings together a broad cross section of America's cultural and civic organizations to champion and support the value of the arts and arts education in our country.”
Due to security and space limitations, media must register in advance of the events. Press should contact Inga Vitols at [email protected], or 202-371-2830, for press credentials. 
Americans for the Arts extends its gratitude to The Rosenthal Family Foundation, Ovation, and The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Family Foundation, Inc. for their generous support of the Americans for the Arts 30th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy. Americans for the Arts also thanks The Reva and David Logan Foundation for its generous support of Arts Advocacy Day.
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at