Students from all over Missouri perform at the Capitol on Fine Arts Education Day by Missouri Alliance for Arts Education | photo, Ron Jennings
ADVOCACY FOR THE ARTS IN MISSOURI
“The Arts and Sciences, essential to the prosperity of the State and to the ornament of human life, have a primary claim to the encouragement of every lover of his country and mankind.” – George Washington
In Missouri, arts advocacy is focused by Missouri Citizens for the Arts (MCA), a grassroots nonprofit and non-partisan statewide organization. Through special events, workshops, webinars, and emailed alerts, MCA staff and volunteers serve “as the eyes and ears for Missouri’s arts industry, artists, and arts patrons at the state and federal levels of government,” says their website. “MCA advocates for the arts issues that matter most and puts out the call to action when elected officials need to hear from constituents.”
Every February at the Capitol, MCA produces Citizens’ Day at the Legislature. Arts supporters from throughout the state participate in advocacy training and visit with their legislators.
Another major advocacy event at the Capitol is Fine Arts Education Day by the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education. Students statewide connect with their legislators and bring the Capitol alive inside and outside with musical, dance, and theatrical performances.
Any nonprofit arts organization can advocate and lobby legally within federal regulations. (The Missouri Arts Council as a State of Missouri agency does not directly advocate for specific legislative actions, but our board and staff network with arts supporters statewide and nationwide.)
On this page we feature a small sample from arts advocacy toolkits available online. You’ll find many more here:
10 Tips for Communicating With Your Legislator
from Missouri Citizens for the Arts (MCA)
1. Write to your legislator. Ideal contact would be at least four times throughout the year.
2. Build a relationship with your legislator now. Familiarize your legislator with your organization, school, program or issues by sending a packet of information. Mention successful programs and services involving the arts and arts education and the importance of public funding. Your legislator will be more able to discuss specific legislation if you educate them on the importance of public funding of the arts prior to session.
3. Inform your legislator that you will be sending information pertinent to the legislative agenda for Missouri’s arts industry. Explain to the legislator the importance of the Missouri Arts Council, the Missouri Cultural Trust, the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, and other arts education programs.
4. Let your legislator know if you are a participant in the Missouri Cultural Trust, receive money from the Missouri Arts Council, Missouri Humanities Council, and/or National Endowment for the Arts as well as private funding from foundations or business support. Let your legislator know how you use public funding to serve your constituents.
5. Ask for your legislator’s support of public funding of the arts when he or she votes for the budget each fiscal year budget (normally in the spring).
6. Be sure to invite your legislator to your activities: exhibits, theatre and musical performances, openings and receptions. Designate the legislator as a “special” guest. Give your legislator “in front of the curtain duties” such as introducing a performance or presenting a scholarship at a student awards banquet or give him/her a tour.
7. Seize the opportunity to show your legislators what you do by adding the legislator’s name to all mailing lists.
8. Provide artwork for your legislator to display. Help legislators cover their offices with art to emphasize the vitality of the arts in their home community.
9. Get your organization’s board wired into MCA’s advocacy network. Have their email addresses added to MCA’s email action alert system and have them respond to alerts and other advocacy news.
10. Visit your legislator at the annual Citizens Day for the Arts at the Legislature in Jefferson City.
Other ways to communicate your legislative message: writing letters to the editors of your newspapers, submitting articles to trade publications, attending public forums and meetings that concern arts issues and sharing your viewpoint.
Find Your Elected Officials
Why Should Government Support the Arts?
Why are the arts a good public-sector investment? Why can’t the private sector by itself fund the arts? How does federal arts funding impact states?
The National Assembly of State Art Agencies (NASAA) has created a succinct guide packed with facts that answer these questions and more, about why the arts are a sound investment for government funds, helping states achieve both short-term and long-term goals. The guide is available online as a PDF and, to make cut-and-paste easy, by request as a Word document.
10 Reasons to Support the Arts
from Americans for the Arts, updated for 2021
You can also download these points as a one-page flyer.
1. Arts unify communities. 72% of Americans believe “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity” and 73% agree that the arts “helps me understand other cultures better”—a perspective observed across all demographic and economic categories.
2. Arts improve individual well-being. 81% of the population says the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world,” 69% of the population believe the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences,” and 73% feel the arts give them “pure pleasure to experience and participate in.”
3. Arts strengthen the economy. The nation’s arts and culture sector—nonprofit, commercial, education—is an $919.7 billion industry that supports 5.2 million jobs. That is 4.3% of the nation’s economy—a larger share of GDP than powerhouse sectors such as agriculture, transportation, and construction. The arts have a $33 billion international trade surplus. The arts also accelerate economic recovery: a growth in arts employment has a positive and causal effect on overall employment.
4. Arts drive tourism and revenue to local businesses. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $166.3 billion in economic activity annually—spending by organizations and their audiences—which supports 4.6 million jobs and generates $27.5 billion in government revenue. Arts attendees spend $31.47 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and lodging—vital income for local businesses. Arts travelers are ideal tourists, staying longer and spending more to seek out authentic cultural experiences.
5. Arts improve academic performance. Students engaged in arts learning have higher GPAs, standardized test scores, and college-going rates as well as lower drop-out rates. These academic benefits are reaped by students across all socio-economic strata. Yet, the Department of Education reports that access to arts education for students of color is significantly lower than for their white peers. 91% of Americans believe that arts are part of a well-rounded K-12 education.
6. Arts spark creativity and innovation. Creativity is among the top five applied skills sought by business leaders—per the Conference Board’s Ready to Innovate report—with 72% saying creativity is of “high importance” when hiring. Research on creativity shows that Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times more likely to be actively engaged as an arts maker than other scientists.
7. Arts have social impact. University of Pennsylvania researchers have demonstrated that a high concentration of the arts in a city leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, and lower poverty rates.
8. Arts improve healthcare. Nearly one-half of the nation’s healthcare institutions provide arts programming for patients, families, and even staff. 78% deliver these programs because of their healing benefits to patients—shorter hospital stays, better pain management, and less medication.
9. Arts improve the health and well-being of our military. The arts heal the mental, physical, and moral injuries of war for military service members and veterans, who rank the creative arts therapies in the top four (out of 40) interventions and treatments. Across the military continuum, the arts promote resilience during pre-deployment, deployment, and the reintegration of military service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers into communities.
10. Arts strengthen mental health. The arts are an effective resource in reducing depression and anxiety and increasing life satisfaction. Just 30 minutes of active arts activities daily can combat the ill effects of isolation and loneliness associated with COVID-19.