Sunday, January 11, 2009

January 11, 2009


Hello everyone.

"And the beat goes on..............."


I am encouraged that there seems to be, at least the beginning, of more dialgoue on what role the arts should play in an America under the Obama Administration, and a clarion call for his Administration to include our sector in his plans for a revitalized America.

Consider these two recent editorial / Op Ed pieces:

In the Boston Globe - click here:

And in the Washington Post - click here:

I would hope this would be the very beginning of a concerted effort on our sector's part to push for a national arts & culture agenda.

I am pleased Americans for the Arts and NASAA and other national arts organizations are now trying to forcefully make the case for our needs and value to Obama as he gets ready to assume the presidency. I hope all of the national arts organizations join in, AND GIA (Grantmakers in the Arts)and its individual member foundations, as well as stakeholders like the PTA and others join the chorus. We need a massive, united voice, now, before the door on this opportunity is closed.


You know, it is relatively easy to get an Op Ed piece published in your local newspaper. I strongly encouage all of you who read this blog to spread the word across the country to write Op Ed pieces and submit them to your local daily newspaper. If you aren't sure how to submit it, please just CALL the editorial offices of your paper and ask them for their guidelines (number of words etc.)and submission policy. They will be happy to share it with you and help you. And they actually look for organizational affiliations and leaders within the community to submit Op Ed pieces.

Please draft a short OpEd this week. Get other people in your area, in your discipline area to sign on as a co-author. Submit a piece calling for the Obama Administration to fund the arts as part of an infrastructure stimulus / bail-out / investment plan. Just use your own words to make these points:

1. Including the nonprofit arts in a stimulus plan will help to both protect existing, and create new, jobs. Lots of middle class jobs.

2. It will also help stimulate local economies and help them to recover by boosting tourism (a key industry in communities across the country)with a positive impact on local hotels and restuarants etc.

3. The arts play a role in increasing optimism and establishing a psychological climate conducive to recovery. Not only that but the arts are a critical part of the ecosystem that will generate the new ideas and new thinking that will move us forward again.

Add whatever stories you have. Even if your paper doesn't print it, you can (and should) put it in your newsletter and on your website, and encourage your constituents, supporters, audiences and volunteers to WRITE to Obama and demand support for the arts.

We have millions of people who support us and we are NOT taking advantage of this asset. YOU can change this squandering of our most potent weapon - public opinion. If not YOU, who will do it? If we were to get scores of Op Ed pieces in newspapers across the country on this need, if OpEds appeared on thousands of arts websites we could ratchet up the issue and that would be enormously helpful in lobbying Obama to move on our behalf and not leave us out in the cold again. You don't have time? Recruit somebody within your organization to do it.

Anyone can write one of these Op Ed pieces - heads of small and large arts organizations, foundation program officers, artists, volunteers, patrons -- people just like YOU.

I understand why performing arts organizations and museums are reluctant to take time out of performances or otherwise compromise the experience of their art, by asking their audiences to help in convincing government to support us. I don't agree with it. It seems short sighted to me at best. Frankly, I think somebody should take three minutes in front of the audiencee of every single arts performance across this whole country that happen over the next two months (at least) and ask the audience to contact legislators and the Obama administration and urge them to include us in the national stimulus package. I personally think it resonates with audiences and that they would respond.

But they won't if they aren't asked. Don't want to take up their time? Then have a flyer ready to hand out with what you are asking for, and then take just thirty seconds (thirty lousy seconds) and tell them to read the flyer and help us if they can. If we can't do that, let's just throw in the towel folks. At least put such a plea in your electronic newsletters and on your websites.

NOW IS THE TIME TO DO THIS. Will YOU take a few moments this week and recapture control of our destiny?

And if an OpED piece has appeared in a newspaper in your area (or even just in your newsletter or on your website)calling for support from Obama, please forward the link to me so I can pass it on to others.

Have a good week.

More next week on The Tipping Point and Casting A Wider Net.

Don't Quit!