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6a00e553e505ed8834017c34c0af39970bJan 31, 2017 | Feature

By Cornelia Carey, Executive Director

As a new Administration and Congress move quickly on a wide array of policy issues that affect artists, small business, nonprofits and the communities they serve, many have been asking CERF+ how we, in the craft field, can be most effective having our voices heard.

As a co-sponsor of Arts Advocacy Day, CERF+ has been involved in helping to shape artist and small business friendly policies in Washington DC. With our friends and colleagues in the craft field and the wider arts sector, we can make an impact. With thanks to the League of American Orchestras, we share their recommendations on action steps that we can all take now:

  • Embrace bipartisanship. Recent successes in preserving funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) protecting and expanding tax incentives for charitable giving, and strengthening support for artists have depended entirely on support from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. The arts are not a partisan issue. The spectrum of policy areas is surprisingly broad and there is a strong history of support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents on the issues that will be before us in the coming weeks and months.
  • Partner and act locally. An increasing amount of authority is in the hands of local and state governments. If you are an organization, do you belong to your state nonprofit association? If you are a small business, do you belong to your local chamber of commerce? Are you active in your state’s arts alliance? Are you at the table for city council meetings alongside other artists, nonprofits, and small businesses in your community? Create new networks and partnerships – beyond your usual allies – that incorporate the full scope of what you do.
  • Know your elected officials. Key votes in Washington may be days, weeks, or months away. But your advocacy starts now by finding the contact for your elected officials both in D.C., and in their home districts and states. Find out who in your community might already have a relationship with these officials, and start building one of your own. Signing a petition is a visible form of solidarity, but the mostimpact will come from highly personalized communications with elected officials by their own constituents.  Don’t forget to include them in what you do — invite them to your studio, send them an invitation when you have an opening.
  • Show up and listen.Social media is a useful tool for activism, but nothing counts more than showing up in person at a town hall event. Show an elected official first-hand the power of your work. While you’re there, really listen to what others in your community are saying. This context informs your community work and should also guide your advocacy.
  • Talk to us.Let us know what you’re up to and we’ll share it with the wider craft community and our network. We will share what we’re hearing and what we’re up to as well. And we will reach out to you at key times when further action is needed.
  • Finally – keep making art!Artists have the power to uniquely address the issues of our time through their creativity, ideas, and skill. Together, we do make a difference.
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