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, on the same day that the Missouri Arts Council holds the ceremony in the Rotunda for our Missouri Arts Awards, 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.
10 Reasons to Support the Arts
from Americans for the Arts, updated for 2016
1. Arts promote true prosperity. The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age. When times are tough, art is salve for the ache.
2. Arts improve academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates—benefits reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Students with 4 years of arts or music in high school average 100 points higher on the verbal and math portions of their SATs than students with just one-half year of arts or music. 89 percent of Americans believe that arts are part of a well-rounded K-12 education.
3. Arts strengthen the economy. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector is a $704 billion industry, which represents 4.2 percent of the nation’s GDP—a larger share of the economy than transportation and agriculture. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually (spending by organizations and their audiences) that supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue.
4. Arts are good for local merchants. Attendees at nonprofit arts events spend $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters. Attendees who live outside the county in which the arts event takes place spend twice as much as their local counterparts ($39.96 vs. $17.42)—valuable revenue for local businesses and the community.
5. Arts drive tourism. Arts travelers are ideal tourists, staying longer and spending more to seek out authentic cultural experiences. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that the percentage of international travelers including museum visits on their trip has grown steadily since 2002 (18 to 28 percent). The share attending concerts and theater performances has grown from 13 to 17 percent since 2002.
6. Arts are an export industry. U.S. exports of arts goods (e.g., movies, paintings, jewelry) grew to $75 billion in 2012, while imports were just $27 billion—a $47 billion arts trade surplus.
7. Arts spark creativity and innovation. The Conference Board reports that creativity is among the top 5 applied skills sought by business leaders—with 72 percent saying creativity is of high importance when hiring. The biggest creativity indicator? A college arts degree. Their Ready to Innovate report concludes, “The arts—music, creative writing, drawing, dance—provide skills sought by employers of the 3rd millennium.” Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times more likely to be actively engaged in the arts than other scientists.
8. 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 and child welfare, and lower crime and poverty rates. The arts are used by the U.S. Military to promote troop force and family readiness and resilience, and for the successful reintegration of veterans into family and community life.
9. Arts improve healthcare. Nearly one-half of the nation’s healthcare institutions provide arts programming for patients, families, and even staff. Of those institutions, 78 percent deliver these programs because of their healing benefits to patients—shorter hospital stays, better pain management, and less medication.
10. Arts mean business. The Creative Industries are arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and design companies. A 2015 analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data counts 702,771 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts that employ 2.9 million people—representing 3.9 percent of all businesses and 1.9 percent of all employees.