Advocating in DC
April 13th, 2015
Want to know what Minerva Research Assistant, Katy Treitmaier, has been up to? Here’s her summary of advocating for the arts in DC…
A Memorable Trip
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to actively participate in the twenty-eighth annual Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC.
And what a fantastic experience it was! I was joined by 550 other proud art representatives from forty-eight states and together we “stormed the Bastille” of our nation’s capital advocating at the top of our lungs for the betterment of the arts. I had never visited Washington, DC before and as I look back on this special opportunity, not only am I gleaming from the sheer beauty our capital possess, but I now have a new profound eagerness for the creative career I have in store.
Our journey began on Monday, March 23, 2015 where all the participants gathered under one roof for a full day of political and legislative training hosted by the Americans for the Arts. I found this “crash-course” event to be particularly stimulating as the day was filled with presentations from arts experts in the field, advocacy training, peer-to-peer learning, and networking opportunities with hundreds of my colleagues from around the country.
That evening, was the real treat! After putting away our pencils and paper, we put on our evening attire and attended the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy at the Kennedy Center. While seated in this auspicious theater we were delighted to hear from the President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, Robert Lynch, enchanted by the award-winning artist COMMON, and charmed by the comical and heartfelt Norman Lear. The evening left us all with a feeling of unity and excitement for the next day.
Our real test came Tuesday, March 24…the true advocacy day. Armed with the facts and figures training from the previous day and our unwavering passion for the arts we have been cultivating for years, all 550 art advocates gathered on Capitol Hill where we attended the Congressional Arts Kick-Off. Such speakers were featured as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Jane Chu and Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ), both chairs of the Congressional Arts Caucus. It was also a joy to witness Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico who received the Congressional Arts Leadership Award in recognition of his great accomplishments for the arts.
After the meeting commenced, I and a group of art advocates from Ohio met with two Ohio Representatives including Congressmen Bill Johnson and Congressmen Dave Joyce. During these arranged conferences, we able to educate and inform the congressmen and their staff about current issues in arts policy. We compelling advocated for such legislation as an increase to the National Endowment for the Art’s annual budget, the continuance of STEAM programs in our nation’s schools, and for the preservation of the charitable giving status in which all non-profit organizations depend. Our voices were strong and the congressmen and staff listened intently. All was a success!
Looking back on these two magical days in our nation’s capital, I have an overwhelming sense of self and community. These events gave me an enormous and wonderful opportunity to “get my feet wet” in the field. My voice feels stronger now that I have actively advocated and spoke my opinions to our country’s representatives. Certainly during my time there, I also meet a variety of people from all around the country. Even though we came from different states, cities, and disciplines, we all had one item that united us: our passion and dedication to the arts.
Arts Advocacy Day is an event I will never forget. I can’t wait to go back again next year. Please join me!