Get Involved

Learn from Issues

If you are interested in being more politically active, or at least more publicly engaged, the best place to start is by building the foundation.  Assembly has developed some content on arts advocacy that provides a good place to start.

Know Your Public Officials - and What They Are About

For many of us, our interaction with our public officials ends when we submit our ballot; however engaging in our community leaders’ decisions should not stop there. Public officials are in place to represent our best interests. As their constituents, we should take the time to learn more about them. What are her goals? What is his voting record? What is on the agenda at the next public meeting? Before you send an email or make a phone call to share your opinion, remember that public officials were put in place because of their own values and decision-making strategies. Understand where your representative is coming from and learn more about the issues they care about. Once you have that knowledge, you will be in a much better position to share how your interests may align with their goals and the goals of your community.

Become an Artist Activist

Once you have the knowledge you need, make your move. We talked a lot about being an artist activist in our From Rust Belt to Artist Belt 2 conference; here are some key strategies you can follow to be successful:

Start early

  • Start early; and if you can’t, do not let that discourage you from starting at all
  • Officials are sometimes the obstacles, so work on campaigns and become involved in the political process to help get the best ones elected
  • Familiarize yourself with the bureaucratic process

Bring the arts to them

  • Bring public officials into direct contact with the arts by inviting them to special events, adding them to your mailing lists and regular sending press releases to them
  • Counter misinformation and stereotypes of artists and the artistic community

Get a group together

  • Put together a coalition among peers to build consensus on which policy goals to prioritize
  • Reach out to everyone, even those who may not be known arts supporters; you never know what passion or connection they may harbor for the arts
  • Enlist the help of friends with additional connections and form strategic alliances

Refine your message

  • Make sure what you are asking is doable. Be united around a workable and well-thought-out plan. Use data to support your case or demonstrate economic benefits like job creation.
  • Strategically frame your cause to appeal to the broader community in order to get the attention of public officials. Communicate the benefits of your plan so they can understand and help you communicate its value.
  • Presenting your message may be even more important than the message itself. Tell moving and interesting stories to help you appeal to the human side (as opposed to the data-driven side) of officials.
  • Don’t be discouraged if you are not initially heard. Persevere and build a bigger voice by collaborating. As you build your movement, check to see if you are advocating for the same end goal as a larger group or sector. Use their size to help you win support for the cause.  You may have to give up a little control to achieve a mutual end result; however, a success after all your efforts will be worth it.

Build relationships

  • Establish relationships with key leaders like government administrators and elected officials before you need something
  • Ask good questions, especially those that help you figure out the official’s taste in the arts. What would motivate her to help? What end result he trying to achieve?
  • Ask for advice and referrals.  This will enable you to reach more people  and will add buy-in for your public official
  • Find common ground, make a connection and help your officials realize the win-win for you and their constituents