The following is the text (amended for the web) of the Call to Action given by Executive Director, GP McLeer, at the 2017 Arts Advocacy Day Legislative Luncheon.
Since last year’s Arts Advocacy Day, there have been a few changes. We have a new President, 18 new legislators in the SC Statehouse, a new Governor, a new Lt. Governor, and at least one upcoming new Congressman.
But one thing has remained the same – the positive role the arts play in our communities and lives. Immune from changing landscapes, the need for us to support the creative sector continues to grow.
Our South Carolina communities are growing stronger, and beginning to address their unique needs. An increased number of nonprofit applicants for Arts Commission grants represents not only the growing nature of the field, but also the fact that South Carolinians have the desire to experience the arts more and have a need for more creativity in their hometowns. In rural parts of the state, these artists, cultural organizations, collectives, and companies are providing vital products, services, and artwork that increase quality of life, diversity of small business within a downtown, and a vibrancy that attracts new residents, visitors, and businesses.
On the education front, South Carolina faces another challenge – to improve education for every student, especially where schools may be lacking in the resources to provide the services required to meet the expectations of the public. Through pilot programs conducted last summer, along with a plethora of supportive data, the arts have proven to be a useful tool to not only improve a child’s overall educational experience and ability to engage with content, but it has proven to inform the skills necessary to be a good student, employee, and citizen.
As arts advocates, this year we must stay alert and ready. Opportunities to voice support of the arts will be plentiful.
Be on the lookout for our email alerts, follow us on social media, and be sure to visit our new and improved website, full of great information to inform your advocacy.
On the national level, we expect to see advocacy work around funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and also the funding of the Every Student Succeeds Act. We urge you all to check the SC Arts Alliance online tools on these issues and be sure to be ready to make contact with your federal officials.
But what can you do right now?
- If your legislator came to our luncheon, or you saw them at the Statehouse, or you spoke with them about today’s activities and our priorities, thank them. Send an email, leave a voicemail, or shoot them a text – but remember to say “thank you”. (See below for links to advocacy email campaign for legislators – open only on February 7)
- If they didn’t make it to the luncheon, let them know that you were here and tell them why supporting the arts is important you – their constituent. (See below for links to our “Advocacy Resources” webpage to find out who your legislators are and how to contact them)
- Take home your luncheon program. It has a quick breakdown of this year’s advocacy priorities that you can use as a quick reference. (See below for links to Advocacy Priorities as presented at the Luncheon)
- Ask your legislator to join the Arts Caucus. There are forms at your table, or you can contact us. (Contact the SCAA for Caucus Forms)
- Support the Arts Alliance! Become a member, make a contribution, share our website and news with your family and friends.
But the most important action you can take? Keep supporting the arts in your community.
Couldn’t Attend Advocacy Day? Click Here