posted by Christopher Howard — Apr 24, 2013
The program for this year’s Arts Advocacy Day, which took place April 8–9 in Washington, DC, consisted of advocacy training and a lecture and performances by the renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma on the first day, followed by a morning kickoff event with legislators, a briefing on current legislation, and visits to Capitol Hill on the second day. CAA sent two advocates to represent the organization: Hannah O’Reilly Malyn, CAA development associate, and Anne Collins Goodyear, president of the CAA Board of Directors.
Monday’s advocacy training from the event’s sponsor, Americans for the Arts, followed the same format as it has in previous years, with meetings on current legislative issues facing the arts. Leaders offered compelling statistics to help make the case for arts funding as well as useful tips on how to advocate more effectively. Participants even engaged in role-playing sessions to quickly gain experience for the potential directions their conversations might take.
In the evening, Yo-Yo Ma delivered the twenty-sixth annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, discussing the importance of “Art for Life’s Sake.” His moving speech, which centered on how the arts form an integral part of the human experience, was part of a program that included the cellist’s performances with the dancer Lil Buck, the bagpiper and pianist Cristina Pato, and members of MusiCorps, a group that rehabilitates injured soldiers through learning to play instruments and record their music. Watch the lecture and performances on Americans for the Arts’ YouTube channel; more documentation from the night is also available online.
On Tuesday morning, advocates gathered on Capitol Hill for a kickoff event that featured talks from Louise Slaughter and Leonard Lance, cochairs of the Congressional Arts Caucus. Yo-Yo Ma and Matt Sorum, the drummer for Velvet Revolver who was once a member of Guns ‘n’ Roses, also spoke. In partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors, Americans for the Arts honored Senator Tom Harkin with the 2013 National Award for Congressional Arts Leadership for his distinguished contributions to the field. After the event, teams of advocates gathered by home state and paid visits to the offices of their representatives, asking them to support increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), to protect tax deductions for charitable donations, and to introduce fair-market-value tax deductions for artists donating their own works to nonprofit institutions. In addition, advocates proposed the idea of adding the arts to the STEM acronym—converting it into STEAM—and discussed other issues pertaining to the arts in America. CAA’s Hannah O’Reilly Malyn visited the offices of three Democratic representatives from New York: Joseph Crowley, Nydia Velázquez, and Jerrold Nadler.
As a federal employee, Anne Collins Goodyear is ineligible to participate in lobbying activities. (She is currently associate curator of prints and drawings at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery.) However, on Tuesday, April 9, she attended a White House briefing that featured remarks from Joan Shigekawa, acting NEA chairman, and Abel López, board chairman of Americans for the Arts. The briefing summarized the goals of the NEA and other White House initiatives in the arts. In an attempt to stave off further budget cuts and to guarantee its ability to award grants in every congressional district, the NEA has requested approximately $155 million from the 2014 federal budget. The agency is clearly dedicated to demonstrating the practical benefits of the arts, stressing that “the arts mean business,” according to Victoria McCullough of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement. McCullough emphasized President Barack Obama’s recognition of the importance of the arts nationally and for education in particular. To this end, Bess Evans of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy spoke about the value of the arts in positioning students as creators, not just consumers.
Jamie Bennett, NEA chief of staff and moderator for the briefing, updated attendees on interagency partnerships. Among these are: (1) a Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD), sponsored by the NEA with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), about which Judy Canales, deputy undersecretary for the department, spoke; and (2) the development of an Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account at the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), discussed by Dave Wasshausen, chief of the bureau’s Industry Sector Division. To further its ability to offer positive benefits, the NEA has partnered with the USDA to fund design workshops in rural communities to help encourage creative solutions to design challenges. In an attempt to assess the quantitative benefit of the arts, the NEA has also joined forces with the BEA to conduct an arts and cultural analysis that will enable the bureau to measure the benefit of the arts for the gross domestic product. A joint report is anticipated in 2014.