Americans for the Arts has declared today the 23rd Annual National Arts Advocacy Day. More than 500 arts, education, entertainment, and policy leaders have gathered at The National Arts Action Summit in Washington to develop strong public policies and support for increased public funding for the arts.
Meanwhile, there are several ways that you can be a part of Arts Advocacy Day without traveling to DC. If you’re on Twitter (I am!), you can make “arts” into one of Twitter’s trending topics today by creating a tweet with the hashtag #arts or joining the Tweet Arts Day campaign. This is a fast and efficient way to spread the message through the constantly growing Twittersphere that the arts vital to our communities.
You can also participate in Why Dance Matters, a virtual event that rallies the online dance community by encouraging everyone to answer the question, Why does dance matter to you, your community, your country, etc? For more information, check out the Facebook event.
While thinking about why dance matters, I remembered Rachel Maddow’s inspiring talk on dance, art, and society last summer at Jacob’s Pillow. She had a lot of smart, witty things to say, but here’s one particularly powerful statement:
“Not just in wartime but especially in wartime, and not just in hard economic times but especially in hard economic times, the arts get dismissed as ‘sissy’. Dance gets dismissed as craft, creativity gets dismissed as inessential, to the detriment of our country. And so when we fight for dance, when we buy art that’s made by living American artists, when we say that even when you cut education to the bone, you do not cut arts and music education, because arts and music education IS bone, it is structural, it is essential; you are, in [Jacob’s Pillow founder] Ted Shawn’s words, you are preserving the way of life that we are supposedly fighting for and it’s worth being proud of.”
I also encourage you to check out Joanna Chin’s post on ARTSblog, which makes a compelling, straightforward argument for the value of the arts. She says, “Arts = Arts; Arts = Humanity; Arts = Health/Quality of Life; Arts = Civic Engagement and Social Change; Arts = Economic Vitality; Arts = Creativity/Innovation = Growth/Vitality; Arts = Cultural Tourism = Economic Vitality; Arts = Jobs & Industry; Arts = Shared Benefit.” Yet, Chin wonders if there are other ways to argue for the arts and communicate them to an audience, and invites readers to share their comments on her post.
Taking action does not – and should not – be limited to today. Arts Advocacy Day is a reminder that advocating for the arts is an ongoing activity, whether by attending a performance, learning how to advocate and influence decision makers, networking with artists and arts leaders in your community, participating in an arts event, or reflecting on how your own arts education (or lack of arts education) has affected your life. No matter how you get involved, Arts Advocacy Day serves as a reminder that being an arts advocate is empowering and crucial to the future of the arts.