“And the beat goes on………………………………….”
The Launch of a New Advocacy Effort in California:
Several months ago I became convinced that the November California Gubernatorial contest was likely to be an important one for the future of public support for the arts. I called Anthony Radich at WESTAF and asked him if he might be interested in supporting some effort here that might replicate what Americans for the Arts did in New Hampshire in the 2008 Presidential election with their ARTS VOTE project – namely a nonpartisan effort to insert the arts and arts education, to the extent possible, into the candidate's agendas; to educate and inform them as to the value of the arts and arts education, and to urge them to develop pro arts and arts education policy positions. The message was that there are a lot of arts voters, and that embracing support for the arts was good policy and good politics.
I worked with Anthony to convene a small group of a dozen or so arts leaders across the state – people from municipal agencies, foundations, arts education, artist centric organizations and others with an eye towards geographic and multicultural diversity. It took off, an 18 member Steering Committee came together (and it is the effort of these organizers that is making this whole thing possible), we raised money from that committee, WESTAF and Americans for the Arts, hired someone to manage the on-the-ground effort over the next two plus months, and the long and short of this effort is the launch next week of ARTS IN THE GOVERNOR’S RACE 2010.
THE ARTS IN THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE project is a nonpartisan effort to ensure that issues related to the arts, arts education and the creative economy are successfully inserted into the California Governor's race. The project was organized by a consortium of nonprofit arts leaders, organizations, arts support groups, artists and concerned individual supporters of the arts. The consortium participants believe strongly in the need for meaningful public support for the arts and arts education.
The project does not endorse any candidate, nor does it support any specific legislation. Rather, it seeks to educate and inform the candidates in the California governor's race, their staffs and key supporters to the value of the arts, arts education, and the creative economy to the state of California. The project will work to convince the candidates for the office of Governor in California to take public positions in favor of the principle of public support for the arts and arts education, and public support for the development of California's creative economy.
THE ARTS IN THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE project is building a statewide army of citizen activists who will help send the message to the gubernatorial candidates that the arts are important to California’s future, and urge the candidates to support arts-friendly public policies such as:
• Increased public funding for nonprofit arts organizations in order to better serve their communities
• Ensure that every child has the opportunity for a comprehensive, high quality arts education in grades K-12
• Nurture an environment to allow individuals and families affordable access to all forms of the arts.
The project will prepare and disseminate information as to the value of the creative sector to the state and hopes to interface with the campaigns of the candidates for Governor to make the case for the contributions of the arts and the creative sector to California’s economy, job creation, the education of our children, to the civic life of communities across our great state and the quality of life of all its citizens. It is our intention to engage the candidates for the office of Governor at Town Hall and other public meetings, and by way of written questions as to their position on the arts, culture and the creative economy, with the hope that they will take public pro-arts positions. We will seek to get news coverage and editorial commentaries calling for the next Governor to address arts issues and we will work to form a broad coalition of individuals and organizations in support of the project’s mission statement. We hope that the millions of Californians who are supportive of the arts and the creative sector will then have more information on which to make their individual decisions as to their votes in the November election.
California has long had a global reputation as a citadel of creativity, and our economic vitality is based, in large part, on the creative sector. Yet we remain 50th out of all 50 states in per capita funding for the arts. As we move into the future, we want to make sure all publicly elected officials know how valuable the arts are to the state.
You Can Help:
In order to do this, we need your help to engage the services of consultants and people to organize and manage this effort, and to mobilize the entire nonprofit arts field and those in the private sector who support us. We need your help in spreading the word about this campaign and to help us to pay the costs of mounting such an effort.
Supporting the Arts in the California Governor's Race effort is easy, and you can support the cause by:
• Liking our Facebook page! Click here to go there, log in, and click the "like" button at the top of the page. Then, click "Suggest to Friends" on the left side of the page to spread the word.
• Following us on Twitter! Go to Twitter.com, - click here, and click "follow" to follow us.
• Visiting our website at http://caarts.org/! Please consider a $5 donation to help support this effort, and join your colleagues all over the state in demonstrating that there is a huge bloc of arts voters. Click on the donate button on the home page.
And then please go to the Endorser’s page to add your name to the list of people supporting this effort and to sign up for our email list, learn about the next event you can attend, and read the latest news about this effort.
• Starting a discussion! Visit the forum at CAArts.org to start or engage in a conversation about the arts in California. Whether you are a supporter of arts education for kids, cultural heritage, music, public art, or whether you are a musician, arts administrator, arts appreciator, painter, actor, parent, or anyone else who cares about arts and culture, your voice is important! The more people we have talking about the issues, the stronger our collective voice becomes.
• And please forward this announcement to everyone on your email list and advise your staff, board, volunteers, constituents, and supporter about this effort.
Go to the website: http://CAarts.org/
I will blog on this effort as it develops over the next month or two.
This is an opportunity for the Arts sector in California to again build a sense of community and to revitalize its collective capacity to act together for mutual common good by reinventing its advocacy efforts -- and hopefully to have an impact on the thinking of the candidates for Governor and thus public support for the arts over the next decade. I hope you will become part of this effort and help to shape it as it moves forward. Ideally, it will be a true grassroots bottom up effort.
Have a great week.