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On Being “Arts Advocates”

Arts Advocacy Day 2017 Collage of arts advocates

March 14, 2017 | Feature

By Cornelia Carey, Executive Director CERF+

On March 20th, CERF+ will once again be a proud co-sponsor of  Arts Advocacy Day. This convening of advocates descending on Washington DC underscores the critical role the arts play in our society and everyday lives.

But, what does it mean to be an “arts advocate?” I recently pondered this as we crafted our own letter to Congress for the occasion.

The word “advocacy” can sometimes be associated with partisan politics. We often hear about it in the context of lobbying inside the Beltway in our nation’s capital. Real advocacy, though, is much more than special interests. Advocacy is a dedication to a broad and encompassing ideal that comes from a belief in a common good. Advocacy also involves educating decision-makers about key issues and calls for bipartisan collaboration to achieve results.  Arts advocates come from all corners of our country, including large organizations and grassroots-level individuals. What joins us is an enduring belief that arts and culture make everyday life more meaningful – and that they are a vital cornerstone of our shared society that needs support to thrive.

This shared vision is what makes Arts Advocacy Day so powerful. It gives organizations and individuals a common voice and also an opportunity to highlight unique calls to action at the same time. At CERF+, we join other advocates in calling for bipartisan support of the National Endowment for the Arts and continued incentives for charitable giving. We also push for policies and resources that help make the “Artists Safety Net” stronger. Providing for artists themselves is a key element of our work at CERF+. That’s why we also highlight specific action on affordable healthcare, self-employment protections and dedication to American-made (and crafted) products sold at national landmarks and parks – all to make sure artists thrive along with the art they create.

Read our full 2017 Letter to Congress that we’ll deliver on March 21st.

Arts Advocacy Day is less than a week away, but there are still many ways you can participate:

If you are reading this article, you probably already love art. You probably also believe that art and the artists who make it are a vital force in our society that need support and protection. Arts Advocacy Day is one way you can make sure your voice is heard in Congress, but it’s not the only way to be an arts advocate. I hope you’ll also join everyone and me at CERF+ by finding ways to support the arts by being an arts advocate in your own community and in your own way, too.

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