Review of National Arts Advocacy Day 2017
March 22, 2017
By Rodney Van Valkenburg, Director of Grants and Initiatives-ArtsBuild
1. Over 700 people from all 50 states attended Americans for the Arts' Arts Advocacy Day.
2. The Tennessee delegation consisted of 12 arts leaders representing Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Kingston Springs and Franklin.
3. The Tennessee delegation met with Senators Corker and Alexander and with Congressmen and/or staff in all of Tennessee's 9 Congressional Districts.
4. 100% — ALL — of the Tennessee Representatives DO NOT support the President's proposed budget. They see this budget as a "proposal" (one staff person equated it as a Christmas wish list...his not theirs). It will be up to Congress to develop the actual budget. REMEMBER eliminating the NEA was a recommendation not an action.
5. All of the Tennessee Representatives understood that cutting the NEA would just be a "superficial" cut and would not have an impact on the overall budget.
6. All of the Tennessee Representatives appreciate the arts, at least on a personal level.
7. The budget process is a marathon, not a sprint. The President has asked the Appropriations Committee (they decide how to spend the money) to wait until he submits his entire budget before they begin their process (What Trump recommended recently represented only 30% of the budget). That will probably be in late April. My guess is that the budget process will drag out until at least October.
8. Economic impact of the arts seemed to resonate with the Tennessee Representatives along with the impact of the Tennessee Arts Commission to ensure that all counties, particularly rural communities benefited from NEA funding directly and indirectly through the TAC.
9. Do keep sending letters and emails and calling your Representatives — they do keep count of the responses. Personalize your message and you may get a personalized response. If you forward an email from an email blast, you may get an automated response. Be nice to Congressional staff. They are being bombarded.
10. Finally, remember that the arts are bi-partisan. Because the arts reach and impact all citizens, the arts do have diverse support among legislators.
Please feel free to contact me to discuss the NEA and other national arts issues (yes, there are other issues besides NEA).