Wednesday, November 7, 2018

While the full outcome of yesterday's election is still coming in, there are some key results that we can report on with more details to come in our post-election impact on the arts webinar on November 19 at 3:00 p.m. (ET).

  • Over 113 million citizens turned out to vote in this midterm election year (compared to only 83 million in the last midterm).
     
  • The midterm election ended sole party control in Washington with Democrats winning control of the U.S. House while the U.S. Senate remains in GOP hands. This means that Democrats will take over chairmanships of key committees, including Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) on Ways and Means Committee. On the Senate side, most GOP chairs would remain in place with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) on Interior, but the tax committee chairmanship will change because of Senator Hatch (R-UT) retiring.
     
  • Women made big inroads in Congress with two Native American women and two Muslim American women being elected for the first time, breaking the current record of a total of 107 elected women serving in Congress.
     
  • The arts and humanities are losing an important advocate in Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7), who serves as the Republican Co-Chair of both the Congressional Arts Caucus and the Congressional Humanities Caucus. He narrowly lost his re-election bid last night.
     
  • At the state level, the majority of Republican gubernatorial incumbents and candidates won their election last night, but seven Governor seats and more than 300 state legislative chambers are changing hands from GOP to Democratic control, which will impact arts funding at the state level. In particular, we may see the return of a fully functioning state arts agency in Kansas with the election of Laura Kelly (D-KS) last night.
     
  • Congratulations to San Franciscans for the Arts is getting Prop E passed with a whopping 74% vote margin. This ballot measure will now reinstate allocating a percentage of the city's hotel tax to support the nonprofit arts and culture organizations in the city. Further kudos go to local arts advocates in Tempe, AZ, Tacoma, WA; and Culver City, CA for passing pro-arts ballot measures.

This incoming group of new lawmakers in Congress—in state legislatures and in local city and county councils—will be among the most diverse electoral changes ever. We know that, for some of you, that's going to mean a lot of new faces who need to know more about the value and impact of the arts and arts education. That provides arts advocates like us with an important opportunity to educate our lawmakers on the positive benefits and impacts of the arts in our lives, communities, and schools.
 
At Americans for the Arts, we believe in the power of the arts to build bridges and increase understanding. We know that there are arts supporters across the political spectrum, and no doubt one person's post-election celebration stands in stark contrast to the frustration another person might be feeling.
 
It's more important than ever that we continue to work in our communities and use the arts to bring us together. To this point, Americans for the Arts has launched a new tool called the Arts + Social Impact Explorer that is specifically designed to demonstrate how the arts impact many other public policy sectors. The Explorer shows how the arts are part of impacting specific issues and lets you download the free Fact Sheet to take with you and leave behind at meetings with your decisionmaker.

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I, like all the staff at Americans for the Arts, am here to make your work easier and as impactful as possible. We've got your back, because, as is reflected in our latest public opinion poll, the large majority of Americans understand that the arts unify us regardless of age, race, and ethnicity and help us understand one another better.

On Monday, November 19 at 3:00 p.m., Americans for the Arts will be hosting its biannual Post-Election Member Briefing to go over detailed post-election impact on the arts and talk about the state of arts policy moving into 2019–20 at the federal, state, and local levels. I hope you join us to learn more.

The strength of Americans for the Arts comes from members like you across the country, working hard every day. Thanks for all you do to support the arts and your community.