January 4, 2012

8 Ways to Advocate for the Arts in 2012

1.  Attend Arts Advocacy Day.
Oklahomans for the Arts will organize the first Arts and Culture Advocacy Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol April 30. The event will feature booths, performances and demonstrations by arts, culture and humanities organizations across the state.

Every year, organizations host events at the capitol to educate lawmakers about their causes. The arts and humanities have never had such an event, so your involvement is especially important this first year. We want your organization to feel ownership in this celebration. Help us come up with creative ways to bring down the house (of Representatives) in a good way! More information is posted under "Events" on our Facebook page. Click here to indicate your interest in participating. Details to follow in February.

2.  Think: Creative Economy.
Did you know that every dollar of public funding for the arts generates $8 in economic activity in Oklahoma? This is based on a 2008, independent, economic impact study. Despite how paramount arts and culture are to the tourism industry and quality of place, they're still often viewed as something that's optional or even a luxury. Arts and culture are critical building blocks to local and state economies. Based on cuts to the Oklahoma Arts Council's annual budget, revenue lost to Oklahoma arts organizations since 2009 is more than $1.1 million. That's a subsequent loss of more than $8.2 million Oklahoma's economy.

3. Go to D.C.
The 25th annual Arts Advocacy Day is April 16-17 in Washington D.C. This is the only national event that brings together a broad cross section of America’s cultural and civic organizations, along with hundreds of grassroots advocates from across the country, to underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts. Click here for more details or visit the Facebook page.

4.  Join OFTA.
If you attended the Oklahoma Arts Conference in Tulsa, then you received a one-year membership in Oklahomans for the Arts. If not, and you've just signed up to follow our newsletter and have not yet joined, you can do so now. Individuals may join for $25 and businesses for $100 or a pick a different level that is right for you or your organization. Click here for details.

5.  Know your elected officials.
Do you know the name of your State Legislator? What about your Congressional representatives? Better yet, who is the school board member you can talk to about increasing arts education in your local school? As Americans we have the right to advocate for the kind of government we want. In order to do this, we need to know the names of the people elected to represent us. Visit VoteSmart and enter your complete address in the dialogue box in the upper right corner to find the names of your state and federal reps. Call your local city clerk to find out the name of your city councilperson. Contact information for school board members can be obtained by calling your local school district. Get involved!

6.  Apply to become an advocacy captain.
The best advocates for public funding for the arts are people like you with local voices and a hometown view. You have the ability to make the most compelling case for the public benefit of tax dollars spent on the arts. Whether talking to a legislator from your house or senate district or a member of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, you are the key spokesperson who can ensure the government’s commitment to arts support. You have information your legislators need to make a great decisions about public funding for the arts. Apply to be a Volunteer Arts Advocacy Captain for one of Oklahoma’s 11 sub-regions. Click here for more details.

7.  Sign Up for a committee.
In 2012, OFTA's PR committee will focus on branding, publicizing and organizing Arts Advocacy Day, which is April 30. The Legislative Advocacy committee will focus on monitoring legislation; educating legislators about the arts and economic development, and guiding OFTA through its inaugural legislative session.

Goals for the arts education committee have not yet been defined; however, they will likely include school board candidate survey work and possibly a grassroots toolkit for parents with a target rollout for 2013. Email us if you are interested in serving on a committee.

8.  Forward to a friend.
Will you forward a copy of this newsletter to just one friend or family member? The Oklahoma Legislature begins its next session February 6. Between now and the end of May, important decisions will be made by YOUR government leaders in regard to public funding for the arts. By sharing this information with your network, you will help us educate lawmakers about the values of public funding for the arts.