By Perry Santos
In a time characterized by turmoil and tribulation, solidarity and advocacy have proven necessary to get through the darkest of times. Whether exemplified through the silence breakers of the #MeToo movement or the courageous student voices leading the campaign for safer schools, using your voice has become a cornerstone prerequisite for change in this nation.
This March I had the opportunity to attend Arts Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. Hosted by Americans for the Arts, this two-day event served as a time to receive advocacy training as well as an opportunity to lobby for the arts with representatives on Capitol Hill.
Considering the imperative nature of advocacy and the arts in society, I left Arts Advocacy Day with not only a heightened appreciation for the arts but also lessons about advocacy that I would like to share with you all.
TELL YOUR STORY
Throughout the training sessions, this point was reiterated again and again. When contacting your representatives make sure you tell your story. When you are trying to advocate for your issue, they don’t want to hear a rundown of the facts and statistics. Although important, more often than not they are already aware of the facts to support your case and are more interested in hearing your point-of-view. Share stories about how the arts have impacted you and their role in bettering the lives of people around you. Telling your story will make your case more personable, which in turn makes it more memorable to the representatives when making their decisions.
STUDENT VOICES MATTER
Throughout the two days, I have seen an inspiring amount of student advocates joining me in the fight for change. This political climate has shown us the power of young voices. Although arts advocacy is a complex issue, realize that young advocates also have the power to provoke change. Whether speaking out for increased funding or simply partaking in the arts, young adults are crucial in preserving the arts as an integral part of society. With that said, if you are a student be involved in advocacy efforts now. You are never too young to speak out on an issue you care about. You are the future voters and leaders of our society. It’s time to start realizing our influence.
Although Arts Advocacy Day was an amazing opportunity to learn, network, and lobby for the arts, advocacy for the arts is a cause that needs to be put into practice every day. Since most people can’t go to Capitol Hill on a daily basis, the continued fight can start at home with you. Simply attending a theatrical production, viewing an art gallery, or going to a live concert supports the art community in more ways than one. Contact your school board or representatives on a local level to guide their decisions regardings arts funding and support. It’s the little things coming together that ends up making the biggest difference.
For more information regarding arts advocacy efforts and ways, you can help visit Americans for the Arts.
Perry Santos is a junior attending Northern Burlington County Regional High School. Perry has advocated for the arts for as long as he can remember partaking in numerous theatre productions and serving as a State Thespian Officer for New Jersey. Appel Farm provided a scholarship to NJ Thespians allow Perry to attend Arts Advocacy Day 2018.