Arts activism abounds in New Jersey!
Daffodils, tulips and dogwoods aren’t the only things blooming in abundance this spring. A host of opportunities are available for citizens who want to make sure that the arts remain on the public policy agenda on local, statewide and national fronts.
On April 16-17 about twenty arts advocates will make the trip to Washington, DC for National Arts Advocacy Day. The New Jersey delegation visits all NJ House and Senate elected officials to stress the importance of federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. President Obama has recommended an increase to the NEA of $8 million over his 2012 recommendation to $154.2 million, and arts advocates are requesting that Congress consider $155 million for the federal arts agency. Other issues on the table include how the arts are affected by tax law including charitable donations and educational policy. Americans for the Arts offers intensive training the day before advocates are unleashed on Capitol Hill. A highlight of this event is the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Public Policy on the Arts, a free lecture at the Kennedy Center, this year delivered by Alec Baldwin with musical entertainment by Ben Folds. You can still join the NJ delegation next week by contacting Art Pride.
Governor Christie has proposed $16 million for cultural projects in Fiscal Year 2013, and while that amount honors the 2003 Hotel/Motel Occupancy Fee legislation that dedicated State dollars for arts, history and tourism, it’s been several years since any increased support has been considered in Trenton. May 10 is NJ Arts Day at The War Memorial in Trenton, and it is jam packed with activities to arm arts advocates with information and inspiration to make the case for State funding for the arts. Arts Day kicks off with the release of findings from the 2011 New Jersey Arts Education Census Report that details the conditions and concerns about the availability and participation of New Jersey students in arts education. ArtPride NJ will hold its annual membership meeting and host The Citizens Campaign in a leadership training session that proves you don’t have to be an elected official to get things done! A keynote address will be offered by Janet Brown, Executive Director of Grantmakers in the Arts, and a special “Movers & Shakers Reception” will be held for Jersey Arts Advocate Members and invited guests to mingle with our keynote speaker, arts leaders and policy makers. The day culminates with the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education, a most joyous celebration, and then the “arts army” has its orders to report to legislative districts throughout the State to champion public support for the arts.
Advocates coordinate their efforts through Legislative District Teams that are gearing up now to visit NJ Assembly and Senate members through the end of June before the Fiscal Year 2013 NJ Budget is passed and signed by the Governor. You can join one of Art Pride’s teams and we welcome advocates who can testify to the many unique and exciting ways the arts make a difference in communities—from farmers’ markets to classrooms, from downtowns to healthcare facilities. Join us! We firmly believe if the arts aren’t at the table, it’s because YOU didn’t take a seat. There’s an open seat waiting for you!
Links: Americans for the Arts – http://artsusa.org
National Arts Advocacy Day – http://artsusa.org/events/2012/aad/default.asp
Citizens Campaign – http://thecitizenscampaign.com
Arts Day – http://jerseyarts.com/artsday
NJ Arts Education Census Project – http://artsednj.org
Grantmakers in the Arts – http://giarts.org