Ongoing Need for Advocacy

A message from IMTA’s Arts and Advocacy Chair, Karen Thickstun

In our current economy and federal environment, there is an ongoing need for advocacy. If we don’t advocate for our profession, who will?

Recent budget proposals sent to Congress proposed the elimination of all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The NEA’s current $148 million budget represents just 0.012% of federal discretionary spending. This equates to 45 cents per capita.

Why is it important to keep the NEA?  How does the NEA affect my teaching in my small part of the country?

The NEA provides federal funding (taxpayers’ money) for states to disburse as they see fit. In fact, 40% of the NEA budget is distributed to the 50 states!  In Indiana, the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) allocates this money to nine different regions. In my region (Indianapolis), arts organizations can apply for operating support and project support. The Butler Community Arts School has received grants from the IAC for the past ten years to provide need-based scholarship assistance for underserved youths in central Indiana. Several of these youths are now music majors or young alumni in the music profession.

Americans for the Arts has created a reference sheet to help each of us talk about the arts — 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.

The argument you employ will depend on who you are talking to…You might want to focus on job creation, and emphasize that the arts create and support 4.1 million jobs, which is a larger share of the economy than transportation, tourism, or agriculture. Or you might want to focus on how the arts develop creativity and innovation — skills that are desired by businesses. Or how the arts can revitalize and strengthen a community.

Advocacy is not just about lobbying Congress. It is what we do every day to support arts organizations and the arts in our schools and communities. Simply being visible and present in your community is advocacy.  AND, it’s good business! The community knows who you are.

Karen will be presenting her second webinar Business Planning for the Independent Music Teacher – Part 2: “Nuts and Bolts.” with MTNA on Friday, May 11, 2018 at 12:00 NOON Eastern Time. Visit the Members Only  area of the MTNA website to register.

In case you missed it, Part 1 “The Big Picture” will be available on the MTNA website in the Members Area.