February 5, 2016
Preparing for Our Future
I recently had the pleasure of attending Florida’s 2016 statewide arts conference, Convening Culture. The Florida Division of Cultural Affairs planned a smart agenda that both celebrated diversity and directly corresponded to key issues within the agency’s new strategic plan.
While in attendance I had the opportunity to engage in a panel discussion about how the arts and culture community can look at a sustainability strategy for public arts funding. A lively discussion among panelists and audience members confirmed current best practices and explored frameworks for moving further. Regarding current practice, NASAA’s advocacy tools were cited as some of the most helpful, with our Why Should Government Support the Arts? policy brief called a standout. Participants confirmed case-building strategies in the economy, education, community revitalization and other areas, but also engaged in a 10,000-foot perspective.
Focus on current government conditions is of course critical and practical: advocates respond to what’s happening today to inform the near term. While reacting to the legislative and executive environment can be all-consuming, it’s necessary to help ensure a healthy new fiscal year. Carving out space for what happens beyond the next fiscal year requires even more of a time investment. But consciously multi-tracking our advocacy efforts with allocating time and resources for the upcoming year and 5 to 10 years from now allows a focus on sustainability and all that we want the future to bring.
Multiyear, far-reaching efforts to sustain public arts funding call to mind Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment. This constitutional amendment dedicates a portion of a 25-year state sales tax to arts and cultural heritage. Preserving cultural heritage is a key part of the legacy Minnesotans have chosen to leave for the next generation. The advocates’ successful, multiyear journey was by no estimation easy, but it achieved a high level of sustainability for the arts community. Let’s not lose sight of that model.
The conversation with Florida advocates also took a look at today’s data—the collection and use of it. Whether in an offensive or defensive posture, our ability to further mine key data will support reactions to the current political environment as well as chart a course toward the next decade. At NASAA we’re mindful of these lessons. This year you’ll see refreshed policy briefs and tools in our advocacy toolkit, all designed to assist with state level approaches to the work. You’ll also see attention given to short-term and long-term opportunities at the federal level—both this year and as we move toward a new strategic plan to chart our future.
In this Issue
State to State
- North Dakota: Creative Aging Program Leveraged with Foundation Support
- Vermont: Vermont Creative Network
- Texas: Texas Association of Business Partnership
More Notes from NASAA
From the CEO
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