Tell Your Tales of Advocacy

Question for readers- Have you ever attended an arts advocacy day at your state capital or Washington, DC?

Actually, for those readers outside the US, I would be interested in hearing about your experience as well.

I recently attended a meeting where the topic of arts advocacy day attendance came up and the experiences people related were something of a mixed bag.

I realized that while I have often been to meetings where people have been encouraged to participate in an advocacy day, I have seldom heard people discuss their perceptions of the efficacy of those experiences. This seems strange given that I have heard/read plenty of people’s thoughts on the good, bad and ugly of attending conferences.

In terms of good experiences, one person at the meeting I attended talked about participating in arts advocacy activities organized in Washington DC by Americans for the Arts where there was a type of advocacy boot camp one night and then visits to legislators the next day. Even in those meetings that were only attended by a staffer, there was a feeling of things being accomplished.

In terms of experiences that felt less than productive, people talked about attending events where no one of significance attended and no office visits had been organized. Another spoke of events that were a lot of exciting pageantry, but didn’t feel like they did anything to move the needle in a positive way.

One person brought up a situation that I hadn’t considered. Because their state arts council is organized under an economic development division, the contribution of arts and culture alone wasn’t touted separately from hotels, sports and gambling during their state’s big event.

It all made me curious about other people’s experiences collectively advocating for arts and culture at a seat of government on defined day(s).

Who does it well and why? Who could do it better?

If I get some good responses, maybe I will turn it into an post (or arrange for someone to make a guest post.)

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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