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A Few Words From Debbie
Taking a Stand, Affecting Change

For the past 51 years, the Arts Council has been a strong advocate for arts, culture and creativity in the tri-counties.  We have taken a stand on arts in the schools, percent for art programs, the value and importance of the arts, funding on a national, statewide and local basis, diversity and inclusion, and so much more. 

As you are aware, this past week has been a whirlwind of activity – most notably on the national front.  Advisors to the Trump administration are proposing the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS and NPR).

I’ve had the great opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes work of our national arts advocacy organization, Americans for the Arts, and I had great conversations with other advocates from around the state and here locally.  I have been reminded many times this week how strong our argument is for the value of the arts in our nation and in our world.

As suggested by Americans for the Arts, here’s what you can do right now to address the proposals from the new administration:

· Take two minutes to contact your two Senators and your House Representatives now.  

· Join the Arts Action Fund (for free) so they can get alerts to you as quickly as possible and you can respond to decision-makers fast. 

· Work to get other colleagues to join the Arts Action Fund. They ask that you pledge to reach out to at least five board, staff, members, or audience members.

· Register to attend National Arts Advocacy Day on March 20–21 in Washington, DC where you can add your voice in person. 

While this is on our national agenda, we also want to make sure our local officials understand the value and importance of the arts as well. So what can you do locally, and how do we continue to impress the value of arts and culture in our local environment?

We here at the Arts Council are encouraging you to roll up your sleeves and join us to take our message further. Throughout the entire month of March, our advocacy agenda will include at least 30 visits (hopefully more) to municipal and school board meetings around the tri-counties. We will be creating talking points that showcase the value and importance of arts and culture in our region and within our schools.

And that is where you come in, as we can’t do this alone.

We know we have a strong message to send, and we want as many diverse voices to be heard as possible. We want you to be our spokespeople and present these ideas to our municipal leadership during the five-minute public comment portion of these meetings.

We have created an extensive excel spread sheet with times, dates and locations of these meetings, and we want each of you to commit to attending just one in the month of March. The best meeting to attend, would be where you live, so you can add a local perspective of the arts in your community. 

We will be calling on you in the next couple of weeks, and we hope you will step up and be a part of this important community-wide endeavor. We are even going to offer an early evening training (complete with libations and light appetizers) on Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. here at the Arts Council to help you deliver the strongest message possible.

Spearheading the advocacy project is our spring intern, Jessica Carter, an exceptional student in MSU's master's of arts and cultural management and museum studies program. Watch for an email from her in the near future and join us to support the arts.

 

Deborah E. Mikula
Executive Director