ArtPride NJ: Growing Arts Advocacy Nationwide

Posted on by Ann Marie Miller, ArtPride New Jersey

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“If you’re not networking, you’re not working.” – Denis Waitley

We all have our networks at work and at home, online and in real time. The most valuable ones provide knowledge, insight into best practices, and oftentimes they are a haven of support and comfort.

ArtPride New Jersey’s business networks range far and wide from more than 40,000 Jersey Arts members, to the unique Jersey Arts Marketers, to the State Arts Action Network of Americans for the Arts. This blog will introduce you to that special network of leaders in 42 states across the nation who have similar goals — to increase financial and human resources and support for the arts in both public and private sectors. Our collective impact increases those resources nationwide.

While the goals of each state arts advocacy organization may be similar, the climates in which they exist are indigenous to each state, and the current status of arts funding in each state reflects its own set of unique societal and economic forces.

In New Jersey, we are fortunate to enjoy a healthy nonprofit arts community that has support from its residents despite a struggling state economy, the lack of multiple major metropolitan areas and the media networks that exist outside of New Jersey in New York and Philadelphia. In comparison, other states like South Carolina have an entrenched conservative base and the state advocacy organization labors each year to pass a modest arts appropriation without a gubernatorial veto.

The State Arts Action Network gathers in person three times each year, at National Arts Advocacy Day, at the Americans for the Arts Annual Conference and in the fall. At these times the Network shines as a model for professional development, and colleagues share lessons learned from successful (and failed) statewide and local advocacy campaigns, partnerships that reap great returns, and strategies that compel citizens to actively seek a healthy cultural environment. In addition to national forums, Arts Action Network members benefit from webinars, an email listserv moderated by Americans for the Arts, a monthly e-newsletter, and a closed group Facebook page where it’s easy to post relevant news that relates not only to arts advocacy but to public policy that affects the arts throughout our nation. Policies that result from the Network’s efforts  often provide new ways to tackle issues at home and are adaptable to a variety of situations.

I invite you to follow Arts Blog this week for a Blog Salon on “Innovations in State Arts Advocacy.” I guarantee you will gain insight into why state arts advocacy is critical, learn about successful advocacy campaigns in states like Massachusetts and California, and understand how unique partnerships generate new advocates and increased interest in the arts throughout our nation.

Even more than knowledge of how the arts fare in other states, you will witness firsthand the brain trust that is the State Arts Action Network and how smart these change agents are, some dealing with seriously challenging circumstances. Personally, Action Network colleagues have challenged me, supported me and served as sounding boards and connectors to valuable contacts.  I am often in awe of their skills and many have become close personal friends over the years.

I hope you follow and enjoy this Arts Blog Salon, share the links and stories with colleagues and friends, and spread the word about this unique and valuable professional network.


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 Ann Marie Miller is the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at ArtPride New Jersey and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. Email her at amiller@artpridenj.com. Click here to visit ArtPride’s website. 

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