Actor Jeff Daniels speaks to attendees of the Congressional Arts Kick Off at Arts Advocacy Day

More than 550 arts supporters took to the halls of Congress on Tuesday for Arts Advocacy Day. Advocates (and a few special guests) met with their members of Congress to talk about the importance of developing strong public policies for the arts, increasing public funding for the arts, and incorporating the arts in education reform.

The day started with the Congressional Arts Kick Off. This “pep rally for the arts” featured rousing remarks from guest artists Kyle MacLachlan and Jeff Daniels. And U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) received the 2010 Congressional Arts Leadership Award from Americans for the Arts and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“[I]t is a true honor to be recognized among the ranks of these leaders with the Congressional Arts Leadership Award. Thank you for your support and for your ongoing work to bring the voices of America’s artists to the chambers of Capitol Hill,” said Speaker Pelosi upon receiving the award.

After the kick off event, Americans for the Arts presented testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior. Witnesses included: Terri Aldrich, Executive Director, Minot Area Council of the Arts; Brig. Gen. Nolen V. Bivens, U.S. Army (ret.); Jeff Daniels, Golden Globe-nominated film and stage actor; Kyle MacLachlan, Emmy-nominated TV, film, and stage actor; Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; Charles Segars, CEO, Ovation; and Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO, Americans for the Arts.

They asked Congress to support a budget of $180 million for the National Endowment for the Arts in the FY 2011 Interior Appropriations bill.

Read official testimony from the hearing here or watch video of all witnesses online here. And to view photos of all the Arts Advocacy Day events click here.

Advocates gave their representatives and senators with copies of the 2010 Congressional Arts Handbook that includes information on important issues affecting the arts.

Be sure to bookmark www.AmericansForTheArts.org/aad/handbook to reference the handbook as needed; it’s a great resource.

On the eve of Arts Advocacy Day, Charleston, SC, Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. delivered the Americans for the Arts 23rd Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Mayor Riley’s speech focused on the art of city design and the role mayors can play in transforming their cities into dynamic and more livable cultural communities.

Mayor Riley closed his lecture with this call to action:

“I challenge all of us in our country to take the Mayor’s Institute to scale, to create a movement, to get everyone involved, to build on President Obama’s wonderful commitment to a national urban and metropolitan policy. Let’s have a White House conference on the arts and the art of city building.

“Let’s get everyone involved, every city, every governor, every state DOT, every school district, every corporation, everyone who has the opportunity to touch or to impact, to make a decision about the city, that they do it with the new understanding and appreciation that our nation’s success, cultural, social, and economic, depends on how great our towns and cities are.”

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Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.