‘Tis the Season for New Arts Policies? (from Arts Watch)
Posted by Dec 23, 2009 2 comments
Each January, statehouses across the country suddenly go from empty hearing rooms and corridors to packed committee sessions and protests on the front steps as new legislative sessions begin.
Having worked as a legislative staffer in a former life, I fondly remember December as a few weeks spent regrouping from the hectic crunch of the end of one session, followed by the preparation of new bills and resolutions for the next one. Which got me thinking…this might be one of the best times of year to reach out to your state legislators to discuss arts and arts education policy.
Through our national state legislature monitoring service at Americans for the Arts, I have already seen a number of new bills prefiled for the next legislative session that could substantially help the arts community.
For example, Florida H-461 would revise the state’s school report card system to allow the rate of student participation in fine arts classes as criteria alongside math and reading test scores. New Hampshire H-1589 would require that a portion of funds from state university system building projects be allocated to the state arts fund. And, Missouri H-1274 would require the state to provide a fine arts education consultant to each of its regional education professional development center.
I know that it sounds cliché to say that it only takes on person to get a new law made, but I saw it happen too many times not to believe it.
As arts advocates, I’m challenging you to think of something (preferably a project or initiative that wouldn’t require funding) that would help improve the arts for you personally, your community, a local theater group, etc.
In between the eggnog and mistletoe, set up a January meeting with your (hopefully arts-friendly) legislator and pitch them. You never know what idea stick and become law.
What ideas do you have that state officials could implement to help the arts in your state in the new year?
Thanks for the update Greg. I'll keep an eye on your progress, but let us know if you need any help.
Tim, I think you're right on. In Massachusetts we are following the lead of several other states to pass legislation to create state-sponsored cultural districts early in 2010. So far we've received universal support for a cultural districts program, mostly because the program requires no new revenue. Wee see it as a way to build on our creative economy work in communities and keep our momentum despite a dismal fiscal picture for our state.