As a $730 billion industry, arts and culture are not only a backbone to our society and humanity, but fundamental to our economy. In Ohio alone, we see that over 90,000 people are employed by the arts, spanning all corners of the state. Although art itself can stand on its own, the industry and opportunities for access and participation depend on the work and advocacy of people both in and outside of it.
In advocacy, the semi-cringeworthy saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”, comes to mind, but this saying often rings true in how priorities in legislation and funding are made. To ensure the future of the arts, advocacy is a requirement and one of the best ways we can advocate is by using our voice and telling our stories. As we know, art has an inexplicable ability to be a common denominator: creating shared experiences, evoking emotions, inspiration and empathy, and serving as a vehicle for expression. In looking to some of our peers across the country, we’ve seen states like Iowa and Pennsylvania create booklets of testimonials and personal statements that demonstrate the breadth and depth of the impact arts and arts education has had on their state’s constituents. Per brilliant suggestion of GCAAE member Shawna Wingerberg, we are beginning this same effort in Ohio - starting with a simple form hosted by GCAAE.
The vision for this collection of testimonies and stories is to have the ability to present a physical booklet to legislatures with views and statements from artists, educators, business leaders, parents, students...any and all constituents of Ohio who value the arts and arts education in our lives.
Add your story today and share this form with your constituents to collect their stories. In submitting your statement on arts education to this collection, you’re helping to ensure that the arts remain an important and accessible part of our world.
Finding Resources to Advocate
Beyond sharing our story, there are plenty of other opportunities to advocate deeper. As artists, administrators and educators, we have the potential to be the best advocates for the arts because we spend our day immersed in the work, witnessing its impact on a daily basis. And yet, it can sometimes be difficult to find the extra time to devote specifically to advocacy or more so, learning the tools and data necessary to effectively advocate. Luckily, there are organizations like Americans for the Arts, Ohio Citizens for the Arts, the NAMM Foundation and many others who are helping to make it easier to find resources, guidance and unification in advocacy.
Americans for the Arts
The primary leader of the network of combined arts organizations and individuals in the country, AFTA’s core mission is to support, serve and advance the arts. Within just a few minutes of poking around on their website, one can find more facts, figures and replicable materials for advocacy than know what to do with. A variety of reports, statistics, fact sheets, issue standing statements across regions and disciplines are available.
Ohio Citizens for the Arts
Our statewide grassroots advocacy organization committed to advancing the arts through advocacy/action, engagement and education.
A supporting organization of the National Association of Music Merchants, the NAMM foundation is dedicated to advancing participation in music through foundational grants, funding music research and advocating through their SupportMusic Coalition.
AEP, Arts Education Partnership
A national coalition of arts, education and culture organizations committed to increasing access and quality of arts for youth in and out of school.
2019 Arts Advocacy Day
For those wanting to go big and dive head first into arts advocacy, mark your calendars for the National Arts Action Summit March 4th - 5th, 2019 in Washington D.C. Organized by AFTA, this national gathering of organizers and art advocates, provides training, convening and the opportunity to speak to members of Congress about the importance and value of the arts and arts education.
“I have been traveling to Washington DC to meet with our Congressional leaders for the last 5 years. It has been such an amazing experience seeing the direct impact that we all can have at a local, state and federal level. I have absolute faith that the system works when we work together. Arts and music education is a non-partisan issue, lawmakers want to hear our voices on this issue! The wording of ESSA stresses the importance of arts and music being a part of a well-rounded education, however, our job is not done. ESSA needs state level work and federal funding to be the most effective.”
- Shawna Wingerberg, Antonio Violins / NAMM
Image: GCAAE members Becky Spiewak, CSO and Shawna Wingerberg, Antonio Violins, attend sessions on Music Education and Advocacy at the NAMM Show
2019 Arts Advocacy Day & Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio
Another fantastic state opportunity is to attend the 2019 Arts Advocacy Day & Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio luncheon on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 in Columbus. For GCAAE members, let us know at the next meeting if you’re interested in attending as a representative member for our association. See the announcement of the event here.
“Many of the elected Ohio House and Senate members have a positive feeling about the role of the arts in education. However, the annual Arts Advocacy Day (held this year on May 15, 2019) gives people like you and me a chance to provide a deeper context for them - how funding for the arts in Ohio can allow nonprofits and schools to partner to connect thousands of students with local exhibitions, concerts and plays, how funding for the arts can help ensure that every schools has an arts specialist, and how funding for the arts can bring teaching arts into schools. While we might make it a point to travel to Columbus to speak with legislators as part of our normal routine, Arts Advocacy Day provides a space and a time for to make those connections. Initially, I was quite intimated to meet state legislators, but I quickly realized that they want to know what their constituents value. Our stories can help Ohio legislators understand more concretely the day to day impact of their support for funding in the arts. We are always excited when new citizens join us on our visit to Columbus, and we hope you will also share your story with legislators at this annual event.”
- Joe Link, Marjorie Book Continuing Education
So join us in advocating for the arts! Submit your testimony or join us for Arts Advocacy Day, but whatever it is you choose to do, always remember to use your voice and tell your story - the arts are counting on you!