As arts advocates throughout the country prepare to converge on our nation’s capitol for Arts Advocacy Day, I began thinking of the conversations many will have with their members of Congress. Some will be fruitful while others will feel like they’re talking to a brick wall, but regardless of the situation we will certainly get our point across.
But that got me thinking. What is our point, how do we back it up and do they get it?
I believe that there are two key elements to making our case for increased and sustainable funding for the arts. We need to have a compelling story that is backed up with reliable and comprehensive data.
We have the stories down pat. We know how to talk about John Q Student who was saved by the arts or how Organization B and Artist X contributed to the revitalization of a community’s downtown development. We are great story tellers, but for the most part cannot back up our stories with data.
It’s a common theme that I’ve seen come out of many meetings, interviews and conversations over the past couple of years. Elected officials, and the public in general, understand what we are doing but they need the numbers to back it up. They want to know exactly how many jobs we create, how much money is contributed to the local and regional economy, etc. Until we are able to provide them with reliable data, they will hear what we’re saying/doing but will never “get it”. Read the rest of this entry »