"And the beat goes on.................."
For years I yapped on about getting the arts to spend more time and effort in building real political power and engaging in the same lobbying efforts every other interest group does. I finally pretty much gave up and accepted that for whatever reason, the arts are not going to raise money to directly engage in political lobbying - or anything that might remotely be considered playing real hardball politics.
But there are numerous ways to lobby and to position one's interests so that those interests register with decision makers one wants, and needs, to influence. Politicians are very astute at reading the tea leaves as it were, and when they detect even minor public opinion shifts, or the increasing organization of special interest groups, or the rise in money being raised to achieve some end that may even remotely be interpreted as having political over or under tones, their radar kicks into high gear. Witness the GOP finally figuring out that a pantheon of their positions are losers and that they need to move direction on immigration, jobs, gay rights and other issues.
So I was absolutely delighted with a news item last month that told the story of the organizers of a gala concert and some other events that happened during the second inauguration of President Obama in January that celebrated Latino culture are now donating the proceeds from those events to help raise the national profile of Latino arts and culture.
"Actress Eva Longoria and others announced they are giving $170,000 to the Friends of the American Latino Museum, which aims to build a museum on the National Mall. That group will make grants ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 to the Smithsonian Latino Center, the American Latino Heritage Fund of the National Park Foundation and the Kennedy Center to support Latino cultural programs."Reflecting increased political power by the nation's growing Latino community, Henry Munoz III said:
"It represents our investment into institutions that are responsible for telling the American story. It is saying now that we're beginning to develop a generation of arts patrons, of involvement in the arts that will begin to pave the way for a more complete story."According to the article, Hispanics voted 7 to 1 for Obama and Latino dollars helped elect the President. Munoz discussed he money donated from the inaugural event:
"The money also supports the advocacy effort to urge Congress to authorize a national Latino museum. A bill has passed through the Senate but is awaiting action in the House. Munoz led a presidential commission that called in 2011 for an American Latino museum to be built as part of the Smithsonian Institution. Longoria also served on the commission, along with actor Emilio Estefan and others. This is the moment to begin to develop Latino philanthropy. It's critically important," he said. "I'm hoping that this will increasingly be known as the brown age. It's important for us to support our own."This is a form (or at least a forerunner) of lobbying. I would hope both the Latino arts community, and the wider arts field, support not only this effort, but more direct efforts to lobby for all the arts. This is a very good first step - but only a first step.
Have a great week.