More on Advocacy

The first few months of the New Year are an important time for Maryland, as the General Assembly meets for 90 days from January through April to act on more than 2,300 bills, and to approve the State’s annual budget.

As the entire cultural sector knows, these three months are a critical time in our advocacy efforts to ensure state funded support of the arts, humanities, arts education, historic preservation, and more.

Tomorrow, behind the guidance of Maryland Citizens for the Arts hundreds of arts supporters will converge in Annapolis to advocate for the level funding of the Maryland State Arts Council budget. Three other important cultural groups are requesting your support in their advocacy efforts.

Last week, Phoebe Stein Davis, director of the Maryland Humanities Council, sent out an urgent request for support, as Governor O’Malley’s budget zeroed out the state funding for the Maryland Humanities Council. Last year MHC endured a 50% cut to its budget, and this year, without your help, it could lose the remaining $53,500 it receives from the state. To get involved click here.

Preservation Maryland works annually to preserve Maryland’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, and archaeological sites through outreach, funding, and advocacy. To get involved in Preservation Maryland’s advocacy efforts click here.

AEMS (Arts Education in Maryland Schools) builds support for high-quality arts education – in dance, music, theatre, and visual arts – for all Maryland schoolchildren.To get involved in the advocacy work of AEMS, click here.

The importance of the advocacy efforts of our cultural community cannot be underscored enough. Phone calls, letters, emails, and meetings with your representatives and legislators does make a tangible difference. Many thanks go out to everyone already involved in efforts across the region and the state.

Until next week,

Buck

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One response to “More on Advocacy

  1. At the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1970, I believe it was, I saw a major exhibit of Van Gogh’s paintings that were on their way to a permanent collection outside the U.S. That exhibit was important, the experience electrifying. That same year (or was it 1969?) I was one of 40 wedge marshals clearing the streets for the march of 500,000 anti-Vietnam-War protesters in the march on Nixon’s White House. That was also an important event.

    The two experiences are disparate in nature but share a vitally important influence in our society: perception — which I’ll get back to in just a moment.

    We are told the “arts means business,” and a major arts organization informs us that more than $160 billion are generated annually by arts activities in the U.S. The argument for highlighting the economic impact of the arts has little impact on our legislators, however.

    The states of Kansas, Texas, South Carolina, Arizona, and Washington State, among others, are in the process of either eliminating state arts agencies or defunding their allocations to zero. Last month the U.S. House Republicans proposed eliminating funds for the NEA and the NEH, all in the name of economic reform. It’s interesting that the combined annual budgets of the NEW/NEH ($335 million) is much, much less than the U.S. spends on war in a single day. Forget that for a moment, but please recall this: the argument for highlighting the economic impact of the arts has little impact on our legislators.

    Remember perception? If the majority of Americans perceived the arts as being vitally important to society — as the arts are perceived in many other countries — and not an insignificant frill, our arts organizations would be in a much improved position to not only survive but to thrive. The implication is this: we need to create a dramatic improvement of the arts’ profile in the minds of Americans in every state and commonwealth of the nation. Easily said, hard to bring about, but as a first step, doesn’t perception seem worth looking into more fully?

    My field is theatre, and I’ve heard it said time and again that theatre is a desperate business. I can’t argue with that opinion, but for some, it’s the only business with the sun and the moon and the stars in it. Perhaps if we focused a bit more on turning the Hubble and Kepler telescopic visions on the matter of perception . . .

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