Lt. Governors Endorse Arts Education Week
For eight years now, Americans for the Arts has partnered with our nation’s Lieutenant Governors to promote arts education and other arts-related issues. I am often asked, “Jay, why do we work with the Lt. Governors?” The answer is simple. Whether they are elected directly, or on a ticket, Lt. Governors have broad portfolios including many aspects of tourism, creative economy, education, and economic development. Secondly, almost half of them go on to become their state’s next governor.
For example, in Louisiana, the Lt. Governor’s Office directly oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne has proven to be a strong supporter of the arts and culture. As he runs for Governor, we can expect that the arts and culture will be a main campaign policy area.
Further, Indiana Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, Nevada Lt. Governor Mark Hutchinson, Oklahoma Lt. Governor Todd Lamb, and New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno oversee their state’s arts and tourism commissions. Washington State Lt. Governor Brad Owens has created the “Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Council,” which encourages the promotion and advancement of Washington state artists.
But, it isn’t just strictly about the arts and culture as Lt. Governors oversee other boards, commissions, and departments that involve the arts—including their state’s National Guard, state education departments, and economic development. In other words, our nation’s lieutenant governors play a strong role in promoting the arts and culture on the state level.
Recently, the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) met in Washington, DC for their Spring Meeting. On the agenda was a resolution declaring September 13-19, 2015 as Arts Education Week. The resolution passed unanimously.
This sounds easy and simple, but there is more to this than meets the eye. First, as I previously mentioned, Americans for the Arts has partnered with NLGA for eight years and has developed a strong working relationship with NLGA staff and its members. This allows us to propose policy resolutions for consideration—which entails getting NLGA staff approval and then securing a Democrat and a Republican Lieutenant Governor to each co-sponsor the resolution.
After securing the necessary co-sponsors, the resolution is submitted to NLGA’s policy resolutions committee; at this year’s meeting, there were two resolutions that were brought to the committee’s agenda. The resolution committee discusses the resolutions, offers changes, and then votes to approve or disapprove. If approved, the resolution goes to the entire body of Lt. Governors at the meeting. The larger body then has the opportunity to debate, add their names as co-sponsors, and then vote.
The Arts Education Week Resolution moved through this process without any concerns or amendments.
There was one moment that caused concern. A Lt. Governor was talking about our resolution in the policy resolutions committee and said, “I support it, but…” Well, it turned out she felt it didn’t go far enough, and she wanted more information on how the arts help student academic achievement. So, Americans for the Arts provided a memo with arts education links and showed one of our Encourage Creativity videos at the session when the full group came together to vote. The information and video were very well received, and now Americans for the Arts is working to produce a full arts education panel discussion at the next NLGA meeting this summer.