NASAA Notes: March 2023

March 7, 2023

Tools for State Advocates

With state legislative sessions in full swing across the country, advocacy is top of mind for state arts agencies (SAAs) and citizen advocates. To help your advocacy practices take flight and advance arts policy, NASAA continues to create and update a variety of tools designed to support state level work. I’m happy to share a few of our resources below as a reminder for some, while an introduction for others newer to the SAA network.

Certainly different state structures include their own restrictions related to advocacy, and those structures necessarily inform how state arts agencies engage in advocating for the arts. It’s also true that practically all state arts agencies hold an obligation to encourage public interest and participation in their state’s artistic and creative resources. It’s from this vantage point that SAAs can best determine how to educate about and advocate for the benefits the arts bring to the people of their states.

To help SAAs and advocates understand where their opportunities to advocate may lie, NASAA’s Advocacy vs. Lobbying: An Arts Primer defines the complete advocacy spectrum. The document also does a great deal of myth busting so that agencies, organizations and advocates can be informed and thoughtful as they explore advocacy strategies that are a good fit. Here’s a myth always worth busting: Communications about the benefits of public arts funding constitute lobbying. They do not! If those communications do not request a specific vote on a particular bill, they do not constitute lobbying. To provide important clarity across the advocacy spectrum, the primer includes concise definitions and examples of the distinctions between education, advocacy, lobbying and electioneering. It’s a particularly important read for those in the arts community who aren’t sure whether they are allowed to advocate. (The answer is usually yes!)

Additional tools that may come in handy during 2023 legislative sessions include:

Why Should Government Support the Arts?

Experienced advocates know that their ability to answer certain recurring questions about government support of the arts is crucial. We’ve heard the questions before: Should government fund the arts? Why can’t the private sector pick up the cost? Who benefits from public support of the arts; is it just big cities? This guide will help you answer all the recurring questions about government support. Relatedly, NASAA’s Fact vs. Fiction: Government Arts Funding quickly highlights the most common misconceptions about government support.

Arts and Creativity Strengthen Our Nation: A Narrative and Message Guide

This guide was developed to advance messaging across the political spectrum. Being used by SAAs and advocates across the country, it is proving effective for speaking with policymakers and influencers regardless their political party. Its Core Message centers the strengthening of our nation and communities as key to building arts support among policymakers. The guide also offers specific guidance for addressing the question of government investment in the arts in How to Talk about Public Funding.

Arts and Economic Recovery Research

As policymakers continue to grapple with economic recovery from the pandemic, our ability to elevate the power of the arts to contribute to recovery and resilience aligns the arts with critical recovery resources. This research includes a Key Findings guide to jump-start your understanding of how the arts contribute to economic resilience.

Creative Economy State Profiles

State level dashboards tell the story of how the arts (including arts jobs) contribute to each state’s economic picture. NASAA is able to produce these state level dashboards because of a partnership developed and sustained by our colleagues at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. This partnership is a great example of how the NEA’s work with other federal agencies can create state level benefits. Our dashboard is updated annually with fresh data—stay tuned for the latest in mid-March!

As always, if the NASAA team can be of assistance as you navigate this year’s legislative sessions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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