ArtsGeorgia convened the first Arts Advocacy Roundtable at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) in June 2018. Representatives from Georgia’s arts and culture nonprofits with active advocacy programs from the Atlanta-Metro area, and from as far away as Savannah were at the table. Members from ArtsGeorgia, C4 Atlanta, Arts & Culture Alliance of Chatham County, United Arts Front plus others discussed issues, objectives and options
The Roundtable began a formal dialogue to create a bold strategy to influence public policy on issues affecting Georgia’s arts community and cultural industry. A statewide arts advocacy blueprint was the agenda for crafting a pro-arts advocacy plan with consensus on action steps.
In part, the strategy was a response to a) being consistently last or near last in the U. S. for state per capita arts funding, b) a need to influence overall public policy as it relates to the arts, arts education and the arts economy, c) addressing funding, access to technical support, and overall advocacy, c) incentivizing not-for-profit and for-profit arts organizations, including culturally related small businesses, to join together, d) improving arts and culture access for all Georgians, and d) among other priorities, the development of a long-term plan (blue print) for sustaining an industry that contributes so much to Georgia’s economy and to the quality of life.
The Roundtable addressed post-recession issues and developments affecting arts advocacy. An agreement was reached on an initial action step: a survey of those supporting a strong arts and culture industry in Georgia. The survey, conducted by ArtsGeorgia with direct mail and an online option, would determine the existence and status of local arts advocacy efforts as a benchmark. The survey would inform future activities with valuable data about existing programs, local and regional issues, and determining which communication platforms were preferred for the receipt, distribution and use of advocacy information. The statewide survey was completed and the results were tabulated. See Survey here.
The full list of Roundtable action steps included the following:
- Establish a statewide arts advocacy communications network
- Register voters
- Convene meetings of arts advocacy leaders
- Convene a statewide arts advocacy conference
- Publish a revised Arts Advocacy Handbook
- Deliver Petitions in support of state arts funding
- Develop criteria for a 501c4 advocacy organization
- Designate a stand-alone Artists Advocacy Day
- Publish a joint letter in support of state arts funding
- Advocate for Hotel/Motel tax allocation for arts and arts education
While some of the action steps required extensive planning and are currently pending, additional action steps resulted from the meeting. As a direct result, outreach began for the addition of arts advocates representing Athens, Atlanta, Columbus, Macon, Rome and Savannah to attend the March 2019 AFTA Arts Action Summit in DC. In fact, Georgia had its largest delegation ever to this annual national advocacy summit; students from the DeKalb School of the Arts participated in a demonstration for the assembled national delegates on conducting a visit with members of Congress; and the teams of Georgia delegates visited the offices of both Senators and all members of the House.