The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council annually leads a delegation of arts advocates from SWPA to National Arts Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. This event is organized by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s arts service organization. Issues we advocates bring up with Congressmen, Senators, and elected officials are federal funding for the arts and humanities for SWPA, what the new federal educational legislation—Every Student Succeeds—means for local STEAM programs, and tax deductibility for donors to the arts. Among the members of our delegation this year were two first-year Master of Arts Management students from Carnegie Mellon University. Here are their recollections of Arts Advocacy Day on March 8, 2016.
Anna Okuda, Master of Arts Management, CMU (’17)
in the image above, back row, third from right
Working in the theater, I have long been interested in collective action. Arts organizations and individuals tend to compete with each other for limited resources and audiences. Although it is important that each organization makes efforts to survive and thrive, I believe that it is equally important that we all work together to make the industry as a whole prosper. Arts Advocacy Day gave me insight into how artists, arts administrators, and board members, could act together for the development of the industry.
Participating for the first time, I was impressed by the fact that hundreds of arts leaders traveled from across the country to work together for the whole industry’s development. In advance we were provided with lot of facts and figures citing how the arts affect the healthy growth of children, how the arts contribute to community development, and how the arts generate economic impacts. Equipped with these data, we met with legislators or their staff, to promote the importance of the arts to their districts and the Commonwealth. I hope that our passion and the convincing data on the educational, social, and economic impacts of the arts will prompt positive action for the arts by the legislators we met with.
National Arts Advocacy Day 2016 was an excellent opportunity for me to experience the power of collective action.
Anne Marie Padelford, Master of Arts Management, CMU (’17)
in the image above, front row, far right
I had heard about National Arts Advocacy Day (AAD) last year when I was researching various arts management programs around the country to apply to. My reasons for going to AAD this year were two-fold: 1) I don’t know much about DC and I wanted to know more, and 2) I wanted to know more about what it means to advocate for the arts. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I realized that many of my colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University and other universities nationwide were on the same journey of discovery.
The beginning of my trip was marked by running into a student in American University’s Arts Management program who I had met last year. She met my CMU colleagues and we ended up meeting up several evenings in DC. So, already, my link to the city and policy was getting stronger!
The training we got from AFTA before visiting legislators was quite long, but I was impressed at the organizers’ efforts at disseminating and explaining the important facts and reasons we would be talking with our elected officials. Meetings with legislators and their staff were exciting from a first-timer’s point of view! I had never been inside our nation’s capitol much less inside a representative’s office. I enjoyed seeing different staff members’ attitudes toward the arts and various legislative bills we were promoting.
I am now aware of the importance of my role as a citizen: to encourage those who represent me and to tell them what is important to me and to my community and why.