How to Secure a Local Proclamation for National Arts & Humanities Month

Posted by Mr. Jay H. Dick, Sep 08, 2020 0 comments

Proclamations are a wonderful way that your mayor, city council, or your city (or county) in general can easily show its support for the arts and culture. Each year, Americans for the Arts encourages advocates to work with their local and state elected officials to issue a proclamation declaring October National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM) in their city, county, or state. These proclamations serve several purposes:

  • They allow elected officials to easily demonstrate their support for the arts. Proclamations are often a great vehicle for “entry level” arts support for those elected officials who have not previously expressed support for the arts or are lukewarm with their support.
  • Proclamations offer a written document for advocates to use year-round to demonstrate the value of the arts and culture. They can also be used to remind elected officials of their past support, and as a bridge to work with them to expand their arts support.
  • Finally, proclamations serve as a tool to engage other arts advocates to encourage elected officials to issue proclamations.

While National Arts & Humanities Month proclamations are some of the most common arts-related proclamations, take a moment to think about other topics such as National Arts in Education Week, Arts and the Economy, Supporting STEAM Education Initiatives, or Supporting Arts in Healthcare. For more ideas, check out some of the proclamations Americans for the Arts has had passed by the United States Conference of Mayors and the National Lt. Governors Association.

For those who may not have done this before, I thought that I would offer a how-to guide help you understand the process of obtaining a proclamation. Alas, each municipality has its own rules, so please take the following information as a general guide.

  1. Find out what type of document(s) your city issues. For example, one city might issue proclamations, while another city issues resolutions, and a third might issue citations. They are all the same type of document that honors a given topic—they just have different names. A quick Google search should tell you what your city does.
  2. Find out who issues the proclamation (or other-named document). Does the mayor do it independently? Does the city council do it by taking a vote? Does the mayor need to sign a proclamation passed by the city council? Again, a Google search should provide this information. If not, just call your City Clerk’s office and ask them. They should either have the answer or be able to direct you to an office that does.
  3. Once you understand how the system works, download this year’s sample proclamation from the NAHM Resources page on the Americans for the Arts website. Take a few minutes to customize the document with your city’s name and any other unique supporting information about the arts, such as Arts and Economic Prosperity data or other research.
  4. If your city council is in charge of proclamations, call or send an email to your specific city council member. Introduce yourself as a constituent, let them know that this issue is important to you, that the arts are important to your city’s economy, and that you would like them to sponsor a proclamation to designate October as Arts and Humanities Month. Ask them to respond back and tell them that you would be happy to follow up with the appropriate staff person. Make sure to attach the sample proclamation you customized!
  5. If your mayor is in charge of proclamations, call or send an email to their office with the same request.
  6. Offer to answer any questions and encourage your colleagues to also contact their city council or mayor with the same request. However, if you can, have one point of contact for all emails/calls in order to simplify the process.
  7. If appropriate, organize a group of arts advocates to <virtually> attend the city council meeting when the proclamation is going to be discussed/voted. Also offer to arrange and/or attend a signing ceremony.
  8. Get a copy of your proclamation, take photos, and share on social media using #NAHM and tag @americans4arts so we can re-share the good news.

If you need help with a proclamation, feel free to email me at [email protected] — and if you get one approved, please send me a copy!

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