Robert L. Lynch
Statement made at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ Awards Conference on January 14, where I was honored with the Sidney R. Yates Award:
My very first National Arts management training came from Association for Performing Arts Presenters conferences in the mid-seventies. I needed that because my presenting passions were not usually very lucrative: prisons, senior centers, inner-city and rural communities, large, all-embracing community festivals.
At about the same time, I became passionate about advocacy. I learned in Massachusetts that if we could harness the energy and clout of artists, arts managers, and arts lovers, we could indeed increase state government funding tenfold. We, all working together, could get voted in huge new state and local money streams nurturing emerging avenues of support for arts involvement and vision like city planning, social problem solving, and economic development. These avenues would provide opportunities for artistic focus and employment in unexpected areas, resulting in new support for fields like public art, art in transportation projects, and expanded revenue streams for all the arts.
In the eighties and nineties in Washington, DC at NALAA and then Americans for the Arts, I learned the necessity and challenges of ongoing collaboration; of the need for constant clarification against unfair, unfounded political attacks; of the need for case making for something as precious as the arts, which should need no defense. Undertaking advocacy efforts with Mr. Sidney Yates for some thirteen years taught me the value of a compelling story and a signature performance in shaping an arts appropriation increase.
I also continued to look to APAP as a source of information and sheer joy about the breadth of the performing arts and as a reminder about why my advocacy was important. At home I got to hear about APAP’s good works from my partner, Dianne Brace, who produced and directed the APAP Annual Conference over a five year period.
In the 21st century, I see more than ever the value of and need for the arts at every table, the value of bringing an arts voice to every national endeavor and national forum, whether for the business community, elected leadership, philanthropy, or social change.
Now in 2014, I am honored to be receiving the Sidney R. Yates Advocacy Award. It is especially meaningful coming from the organization that first mentored me. America needs the arts, although sometimes it doesn’t know it. The arts need advocacy, and the arts and I need APAP.