2014 was an exciting year for the arts sector. We saw Russia attempt to ban swearing in public performances and here at home we saw threats of attack with the release of “The Interview”, a film that pokes fun of North Korea and its leaders. We also heard major news out of Detroit that the city’s battle with bankruptcy ended thanks, in part, to the art museum.
These stories all have something in common – in addition to being about the arts, they also relate to policy and the government. As arts administrators, these and related events affect what we do everyday, though we may not immediately think of them as being important.
So, how can we get involved in policy and government actions that affect our field? The simple answer is: advocacy.
If you’re anything like me, the word advocacy can give you a minor panic attack. A trip to the dentist office sounds more exciting than going out to argue with a bunch of politicians. Yet here I am, serving as an advocate for the arts. But why?
I have witnessed the powerful effects the arts can have on people, myself included. I want to continue to share its positive gift with others, but know that the critical economic state we’re in is affecting our arts programming across the country. While I pursue my education here at Drexel, I am learning what it really means to advocate for the arts and how important it is. And as I learn more about advocacy, the less intimidating it becomes. Many in the arts field get scared off by the idea of advocacy, thinking it really is just putting on a sharp suit and arguing with politicians. But the definition of advocacy goes beyond this narrow view and it is an important skill for all arts administrators to have.
To help us grasp a better understanding of the word, the Arts Administration Graduate Association will host an Arts Advocacy Speaker Series Thursday, January 15 from 6-8pm in the URBN Center 125. This year’s panel will feature Jenny Hershour of Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania, Nicole Allen of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and Amy Scheidegger of the Artistic Rebuttal Project. Throughout the discussion, our speakers will cover advocacy basics, what careers in advocacy look like and why students should be excited to participate in Arts Advocacy Day, both nationally and locally in Philadelphia. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions during the Q&A portion of the night.
Please join us in this informative talk and lets get excited about advocating for what we’re all so passionate about!
Suhee You is a first year Arts Administration student and is the Advocacy First-Year Liaison on the AAGA Board