It seems that sounds bites in politics are dominating the air waves, often significant ramifications for the arts, including the possible de-funding of the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment of the Humanities as well as the potential elimination of the Department of Education. As arts managers and technologists, it is important to turn to data-informed information over headlines and sound bites. You even might be wondering how to better understand the political terrain or how to take action yourself?
Yes, institutions themselves can take action within particular frameworks, as detailed in a recent post by Justin Gilmore in "Advocating for the Arts: Yes You Can." So how do you know, as either an institution or an individual, what the best next steps are? Technology is adjusting quickly to the changing political climate, and we've identified a few tools that you might find useful:
An action-focused website with an associated app that provides interested parties with news on the bills and activities coming from the executive and legislative sides of the Federal Government. It does require a log in to participate and allows you to sync with Facebook if you so choose.
The app provides options for following specific issues as well as a home feed of activities relevant to the user.
The Settings tab allows users to find information on their representatives, register to vote, or even investigate local information.
And like all social sites, there is a notifications tab to keep you informed on the newest activities.
With Daily Action you sign up for a daily text that gives you an opportunity to take action by calling your representatives on significant issues.
"You will subsequently receive one text message every workday about an issue that we have determined to be urgent based on where you live. You tap on the phone number in your message, listen to a short recording about that day’s issue, and from there you’ll be automatically routed to your Senator, member of Congress, or other relevant elected official. In 90 seconds, you can conscientiously object and be done with it."
Similar to Daily Action but email-focused, you sign up for a weekly email blast that gives you the weekly concerns and the phone numbers of your representatives with suggested scripts. "There's one simple and straightforward way to influence the Government that is supposed to represent you: Call them on the phone."
While the arts can be an issue you follow on Countable, Americans for the Arts is the one-stop-shop for staying on top of issues affecting the arts in Federal government. They have issued the following suggestions for action:
Call your Senators and Congressperson and share the value of the arts to you and to your community. Find their contact info, here.
Sign the Americans for the Arts official petition to support the NEA, NEH, and CPB. Bob Lynch, CEO and President of Americans for the Arts, plans on taking a second letter to President Trump with the signatures of 100,000 Americans – let your name be counted.
Sign up to receive Action Alerts from Americans for the Arts, with the Arts Action Fund (it’s free), follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and get your friends to sign up too. This is the source for the latest information and to know what actions to take. They have created a Response Team ready to send you the latest information and ways to take action.
Americans for the Arts' National Arts Advocacy Day, March 20-21 in Washington, D.C., is a further opportunity to strategize and meet directly with elected officials, we are an active part of this convening, too.
Inform Americans for the Arts for any specific actions impacting the arts in your community as a result of the President's new executive order on sanctuary cities. Please send an e-mail to Ruby Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRIORITIZE, YOUR LEGISLATORS DO
Yes, signing a petition is important. Yes, signing a letter that was scripted by an organization you support is necessary. But, the face-to-face conversations, phone calls and hand written letters are the communication pathways that, according to a recent talk by a Pennsylvanian politico, carry the most weight in their decision making. If you take the time, they take the time.
And, as always, honor our civic process, listen and respond to opinions unlike your own, and be respectful of all difference.