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Arts Advocacy 101: Learn the Language

by Ethan R. Clark

Welcome to Washington, DC the center of policy, politics, and protesters. Learn how to make your case for the arts at Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (EALS) on April 15, 2012. Organized by American University Arts Management students, EALS provides you with professional collaboration and leading discussion on today’s arts management trends including arts advocacy.

EALS Panel discussion, Arts Advocacy 101: Learn the Languagefeatures DC’s leading experts in research, policy, and communication.  Learn the potential effects of research and policy on arts organizations. Know your role as an arts advocate to build and maintain successful civic and government relationships.  Apply your knowledge and experience to current and available data to distinguish your organization’s public message.

Anne L'Ecuyer

Anne L’Ecuyer

Professor of Arts Management at American University

Moderator Anne L’Ecuyer is a writer and a consultant who stays closely connected to an international network of city leaders, cultural professionals, and working artists. She is an expert in creative industries and cultural tourism in the United States, as well as the contributions of the arts toward educational, social, and environmental goals. L’Ecuyer’s experience producing seven national conferences and leadership events for cultural professionals and their allies in government, business, and education guides this panel with a perspective from across the board.

Today, Anne owns and operates the Washington Writer’s Retreat, a private writing and research residency in the nation’s capital. She is an essayist currently at work on a book-length collection that profiles cultural leaders in ten American cities. Anne also consults independently with businesses, nonprofits, and public institutions. She holds a Bachelors degree from Northern Arizona University, studied public policy at the University of Maryland at College Park, and now teaches at American University in the Arts Management program.

Jonathan Katz

Jonathan Katz

CEO of National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

Jonathan Katz, Ph.D., is CEO of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), which was created by the 50 state and six jurisdictional arts agencies of the United States as their primary vehicle for arts policy development, advocacy, leadership development, research, information and communication. Dr. Katz consults globally on cultural policy, leadership development, strategic planning and effective advocacy. A former member of the U.S. Commission on UNESCO, he has advised the International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies on its corporate development and facilitated its CEO Seminar for heads of national arts and cultural agencies at World Summits in England, South Africa and Australia.

Most recently, he has advised the governments of Korea and Canada and led a session on problem solving for Grantmakers in the Arts in Chicago. He is a founder of the Arts Education Partnership, the nation’s coalition of more than 100 organizations for the advancement of learning in the arts, and of the Cultural Advocacy Group, which is the forum through which the national cultural service organizations of the U.S. develop their united federal agenda. For the U.S. Department of State, he has conducted planning and professional development sessions with culturalagencies in five cities in Mexico. 

Robert Bettmann

Robert Bettmann

Advocacy Director for DC Advocates for the Arts

Robert Bettmann is a choreographer, community organizer, writer and administrator. He is the Advocacy Director for the DC Advocates for the Arts, Managing Editor of the arts magazine Bourgeon, and the author of the book Somatic Ecology. The Washington Post called his recent choreography, Quis Custodiet, “A powerful performance” (August, 2011). Later this spring the Arts Club of Washington will host the book launch and award event for the 2nd annual DC Student Arts Journalism competition.

Andrea Kreuzer

Andrea Kreuzer

Program Associate of Arts Education Partnership

Panelist Andrea Kreuzer is a Program Associate for Research and Policy at the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), based in Washington, DC. At AEP she has a substantial role in developing and authoring a new user-friendly database of outcomes-based arts education research and policy implications, called ArtsEdSearch. She’s also working with the U.S. Department of Education’s Professional Development for Arts Educators Program to develop and implement a rubric to assess the quality and effectiveness of grantee Annual Progress Reports. Andrea also co-wrote the AEP Research Bulletin, Music Matters: How music education helps students learn, achieve, and succeed which compiles and digests recent research on the benefits of music education.

Andrea received her Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies from The George Washington University and her Bachelor of Sciences degree in Photography and Art History from Ithaca College. Before coming to AEP Andrea worked in museum research and evaluation, and in exhibition development and design at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History and the National Geographic Society.
 

Jeffrey Herrmann

Jeffrey Herrmann

Managing Director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Panelist Jeffrey Herrmann became Managing Director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in 2007 after eight seasons as Producing Director of Alaska’s Perseverance Theatre.  A NY native of Schenectady, NY, Jeffrey grew up in West Hartford, CT, and received his BA in English at Vassar College and his MFA in Theater Management at the Yale School of Drama.  Prior to his enrollment at Yale, he was Managing Director of the Albany Berkshire Ballet in Pittsfield, MA.  During his time at Yale, he worked at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and as Associate Managing Director of the Yale Repertory Theatre.

Curious about trends and issues in arts policy and advocacy? Do you have questions for our panelists? Got anything in particular you want to hear from these panelists?

Share with us and bring the questions to the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium on Sunday, April 15, 2012. See you there!

Thinking Caps Ignited

Set those thinking caps ablaze impress your friends with newfound knowledge and wit after processing these brain ticklers:

How to have a conversation:

What makes a good conversationalist has changed little over the years. The basics remain the same as when Cicero became the first scholar to write down some rules, which were summarised in 2006 by The Economist: “Speak clearly; speak easily but not too much, especially when others want their turn; do not interrupt; be courteous; deal seriously with serious matters and gracefully with lighter ones; never criticise people behind their backs; stick to subjects of general interest; do not talk about yourself; and, above all, never lose your temper.” But Cicero was lucky: he never went on a first date with someone more interested in their iPhone than his company.

 Future tense, VII: What’s a museum:

Yet if today’s museums are successful cultural caterers with wide-ranging menus, no matter where we find them, their fare manages to taste more and more the same. A handful of the same celebrity architects now designs new wings and even whole museum cities such as Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Facilities in Spain, Boston, the Middle East, and Los Angeles all look different in the same way. An international class of museum professionals job-hops among Beijing, Paris, New York, and Qatar spreading a common corporate culture, where top directors are expected to command million-dollar salaries, oversee thousands of employees, fund-raise, invest and spend endowments on massive expansions, horse-trade the assets on the walls to create blockbuster shows that can attract headline-making crowds, and spin these activities to the press.

How To Be Creative:

But creativity is not magic, and there’s no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It’s a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.

 Building a Better Apocalypse:

On Chris Hackett’s personal periodic table, the world’s most interesting, and abundant, substance is an element he calls obtainium. Things classified as obtainium might include the discarded teapot that he once turned into a propane burner, or the broken beer bottle he used to make a razor, or the 9-millimeter shell casings he acquired some time ago, melted in a backyard foundry (also made of obtainium) and cast into brass knuckles for a girlfriend.

The Emerging Arts Advocate’s Guide to Climbing the Hill

By Ethan R. Clark

Capitol Lawn, Summer 2010 Ethan Clark

Whether we aspire to be a curator, producer, or director, lobbying and advocating is a normal practice for all to share our knowledge and personal testimonies of the importance and value of the arts. I can’t tell you how to dodge motorcades or avoid mobs of protestors while in DC but I will share with you a few tricks of the trade from one Emerging Arts Leader to another. Take note of these 4 tips to focus your craft of arts lobbying on the hill.

4.   Caution: Don’t Climb Alone!   

Nonprofits (with 501c3 status) often limit their lobbying because lobbying limits aren’t clearly defined by the law. Get informed of the laws and common misconceptions of nonprofit lobbying but don’t stress; there’s a good chance you won’t have to climb The Hill alone and your interest group/professional association will guide your visit according to IRS rules.

Hart Senate Office Building, "Mountain and Clouds" by Alexander Calder Ethan Clark

You’re only as good as your networks and knowledge. Professional associations, partnerships, working groups, and coalitions all share resources to increase knowledge, define effective policy agendas, and present influential data representing a policy maker’s constituents. Not to say that your voice won’t be heard but joining forces maximizes a policy maker’s time and your influence.

An organization’s capacity is viewed as an investment for government research. Not only do regional and national networks assist local nonprofits to participate in federal conversations but they also are continually the go-to organizations when government seeks info.

3.   For the Novice Navigator

Capitol's Original Front Entrance, Winter 2012 Ethan Clark

Okay so the hill isn’t that steep but prepare for a climb. Arrive at your building’s location 1hr prior to your meeting. Consider transportation delays and walking distances from parking lots/metro stations.  Arrive at your congressman’s office 30min prior to your meeting. Consider security checkpoints and the labyrinth of matching office doors.  Download a map and find a common meeting place to survey the land with your fellow climbers.

After hours of planning, travel, and productive conversation with your congressman, debrief (as appropriate) at these favorite eateries and cafes recommended by staffers and friends on the hill:  Sonoma, Bistro Bis, Johnny’s Half Shell, Pound the Hill, & Ebenezers Coffeehouse.

 2.    Reaching the Summit

Keep your cool and don’t let the impressive marble and memorials intimidate.  Remember whom your voice represents and your goal of delivering a clear and concise message. Start your conversation (not lecture) with a pleasant greeting and state your intentions and positions but don’t beat around the bush.

Inside the Capitol Dome, Fall 2011 Ethan Clark

Don’t derail on impassioned issues, follow talking points to progress conversation and maximize your time.  Prepare various lengths of dialogue from elevator speech to deep discussion; be confident. Also, practiced discourse with people of varying knowledge on your issue helps prepare you to communicate your message with the best tactics.

Stop the rhetoric and jargon. Clearly define the true problem and recommend a course of action that policy makers should take according to your interests. Provide analogies or examples of people your policy maker values the most: his/her voters. Policy options or alternatives should be included in your agenda.

Info = power but with information overload in Washington, no lobbyist expects a staff to read more than a 1-2 page brief or memo. Share new research to increase opportunities to schedule an appointment but keep it simple.

1.    Repelling 101

Washington Monument, Cherry Blossom Festival 2011 Ethan Clark

As DC Advocates for the Arts reminds us “Advocacy is an ongoing process. Legislators face so many competing causes that just one visit or one letter won’t make much of an impact.” Repel from your meeting on the hill but keep your rope tight and attached. Follow up with staffers on your meeting even if it’s cancelled. Staffers have a great influence on a policy maker’s decision and developing a relationship here is key to getting back in the door.

Did your meeting get bumped or shorten by a celebrity gallivanting around the hill? Don’t fret, hill staffers and especially Congressmen have extremely tight schedules and often work around the clock. If you had a successful conversation (or not), it is appropriate to follow up with a personal thank you note timed just right for an extra reminder before they vote.

I hope these tips ease your climb on Arts Advocacy Day! For further info…

Contact your state arts advocacy organization to learn more about how you can stay informed and engaged in the public policy process.

Visit websites of your favorite national associations to see how your local- and state-level issues relate to federal issues. It’s not uncommon for small and local organizations to participate in a larger network/coalition/legislative-working group to ensure their voice is represented on the hill.

Experiencing APAP NYC, what I am taking from the 2012 conference. – Day 3

Day 3:

Bolz Center students share their work

I started this morning with a session with our fellow arts management students at the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the University of Wisconsin.  The students involved, Joanna Simpson, Brian Hinrichs, Marcella Dover, Laura Blegen, Andrew Maxfield, and Danielle Boyke, presented this year’s edition of the Dawson Research Internship: Power Influence, and Performing Arts.  Bolz Center director Andrew Taylor moderated.  The research and presentation was designed to connect the dots between power and influence in policy-making and the arts.  Here is a brief summary of the two hour session:

  • Social Network Analysis – there are 4 steps to analyzing your network:
    1) Define the group
    2) Know your position in relation to the group
    3) Identify the connectors and bridges between you and a desired network connection
    4) Create a plan for how to change your position
    – Analyze your network to see the actual connections.  It is a great way to visualize what you need to do to further your connections and position (i.e. – get someone on the Rotary club so you can connect with a certain local businessperson).
  • Social Movement Theory –
    – How do they function?  The root idea is the base, then comes the mobilization of resources, then comes a cycle of cognition (recognizing smaller goals), coordination, and cooperation.
    – Arts fit in with social movements by providing communication, mobilization, solidarity, long-term impact, and emotional power.
  • Power in Politics – Economic power is the main source of power in the US (the 1% idea that has been brought forward from the “occupy” movements).  The “power elite” have a mix of social upper class, policy forming organizations, and corporate community.
    – How to make a change:  identify your “power elite” and find a way into the network.
  • Organizational behavior – the 6 source model from Influencer by Patterson, Grenny, et al.: shows different ways to affect change (this is a great companion book to Switch by the Heath brothers).

Ideas picked up from session participants and personal thoughts:

  •  Ticket buyers are an outcome, not a network.
  • An army of people camping on the steps of the capital is not as powerful as one person having a conversation with the chair of a congressional committee.
  • As far as advocacy, we arts people have such a large network, that the potential for huge clout is there; we just have to mobilize the network.
More info on the research can be found at bolzcenter.org/dawson

At 11:00, I attended the next plenary session, The Village Beat – Taking Action.  It was hosted by John Hearn, principal at SYPartners.

John Hearn

The towering consultant led the group in a discussion on connecting the organization to the community and its needs.  This doesn’t mean simply residing in a community and trying to lure its members in.  It means having a direct connection.  His four pillars of what constitutes a community’s situation are the individual, the community (group), change that is happening, and money.  The major questions to ask yourselves as an organization are:

  • How is the world changing for the community you serve?
  • What is the ideal that would answer your community’s most pressing needs?
  • How will you or your organization rise to this occasion?
  • What is the evidence that you can exercise this leadership?
  • How must you stretch in order to fully occupy your new role in the community?

Thoughts taken from this session:

  • Don’t think about your community in terms of art, because chances are it is not what they wake up thinking about.
  • Define your success as an organization based on the success of the community around you, not by looking at yourself in the mirror.

There was a lot of grand, eloquent thoughts and statements during this Village Beat session.  I can only hope that the arts leaders who made these statements will actually put these thoughts into action and not keep them on the shelf.

After a dinner at the famous Carnegie Deli, I headed over to the Broadway Comedy Club on 8th avenue to check out what Chicago City Limits had to offer.  It is a 6 member

Chicago City Limits

improvisation group that has 5 actors and 1 amazing improvisational accompanist.  I was not disappointed.  I know I said yesterday that 7 Fingers was my favorite….well, Chicago City Limits has now taken that position with a coup de force.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.  You know when you get to laughing so hard that they get high pitched and you start snorting……yep, that was me.  The troupe started with a song about a phrase that the audience came up with, which happened to be “Anything Goes.”  The lyrics were masterfully composed, and the actors really played off each other rhymes well. Then they performed a sketch about another crowd creation in multiple styles, which were also drawn from the crowd.  Another highlight was the “story time” sketch based off of a title that an audience member gave.  The actors passed the baton, so to speak, picking up the story and continuing to create it as the “director” pointed to each actor.  They also performed a long-form improv musical, and ended with a hilarious game in which one actor had to guess a regionalism phrase based on extremely vague clues given by the other actors.  I cannot even begin to do justice to the comical genius of the group in this blog.  I can only recommend that you look them up and plan to attend one of their shows.

Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

After that, I meandered down to 44th and 8th to the famous Birdland jazz club to listen to a set from the world renown and Grammy winning Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.  Each musician on the stage was a true master of his craft.  It was a delight to listen to such wonderful Latin jazz.  Once again, I recommend hunting them down and listening when you get the chance.

– Steven Dawson
“The world needs art, not so they can escape, but so they can embrace.”

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