June 23

Inspiring Examples: Advocating

Arts advocates across the country are improving their local communities. I learned about several inspiring examples of great arts advocacy at the recent meeting of arts statewide arts advocacy groups from across the country.

AFTA CEO Bob Lynch giving award to Ann Marie Miller from Art Pride NJ

AFTA CEO Bob Lynch giving award to Ann Marie Miller from Art Pride NJ

I get to participate multiple times a year with the State Art Action Network of Americans for the Arts and was just elected to their Council.


Ann Graham from TX for the Arts with Julia Kirt from Oklahomans for the Arts

As we grow our local arts advocacy, I hope we can emulate the energy and rigor of projects like these.

Create the Vote

MASSCreative spurred action and transformed dialogue around the arts for the last campaign cycle with their Create the Vote campaign.

296093_415227858525306_812433247_nA statewide nonprofit advocacy organization, MASSCreative engaged in nonpartisan campaign work, seeing election cycles as an important times for communities setting the future agenda.

Executive Director Matt Wilson said Create the Vote focused on goals to increase candidate’s platforms on arts and culture, grow political activity by the arts sector and get stories out about the impact of the arts sector.

They focused first on the state elections, the gubernatorial campaign and targeted legislative races (and like Oklahoma, many were unopposed). MASSCreative also engaged in Boston’s mayoral race because of the city’s pivotal role in arts and culture.

Among many dynamic components, the campaign included:

  • Candidate forums (One was attended by 700, the largest gubernatorial forum of the season!)
  • Candidate surveys (see results here)
  • Small group meetings of local arts leaders with candidates to talk about the sector and get more in-depth understanding of the candidate’s platforms.
  • Opinion and editorials in print publications and online.
  • Arts Matter Day—an event and opportunity for advocates to create videos about why the arts matter to them. Hundreds of videos were created.

Their work helped raise the profile of the arts sector and encouraged many to consider arts policy when voting.

The most tangible result was that the new Boston Mayor Marty Walsh named a cabinet-level arts and culture leader and instigating cultural plan for the city.

MASSCreative is also working to increase investments to the Mass Cultural Council and Cultural Facilities Fund through the Governor and State Legislature.

Thanks for the inspiration MASSCreative.