As a constituent, you are the ideal grassroots advocate to convey to legislators and town officials how essential arts and culture are to your community. You have the power to educate them about the importance of the arts in your community and to engage them on important arts issues. Without your help, your legislator may not realize the ability of the arts to support jobs, engage kids in school, and change lives in your district. We want to make it easy for you to take action, build relationships with your representative's office, and highlight the advocacy work you are doing in your community and schools
To ensure continued public funding for the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences, there must be public and legislative support. Public awareness and support result from continuous education about the many ways that public funding enriches the quality of life in your community.
Therefore it is critical for LCC members and their applicants to educate the public, including elected local officials and state legislators, about how funds are used locally and the resulting impact on community life. This educational process is referred to as "advocacy."
When legislators understand your goals and accomplishments, it will be easier to advocate for increased funding for the arts and culture in your community.
Want to take action, but aren't sure where to begin? Here are some suggestions on how to keep elected officials informed about what the council needs, and how the councils work improves the community.
Meet your legislators
Not sure who your representative is? Just enter your zip code here to find out and click on the name of your senator and House members to see their contact information.
Get to know your legislators so that when the council wants to ask them to support increased cultural funding, they will know about the council and its work. Council members can ask for a meeting, invite legislators to an event, meet legislators during open office hours, or arrange to go a legislative event such as a speech, dedication or fundraiser. Step-by-step tips for meeting with your legislator. When communicating with legislators, be sure to describe the LCC program, including the following:
- LCCs grant state money through the Massachusetts Cultural Council line items.
- The grants are awarded and administered by community volunteers. Arts volunteers are activists who care about their community. They vote and they are connected to networks of voters who are active in the community.
- The funding the LCC receives is locally controlled to benefit the community.
Invite legislators to participate
Invite legislators to public events such as grant receptions and any other local events. It is important to recognize the legislator publicly and give them an opportunity to speak. Be sure to also take pictures to distribute to local newspaper and connect with your legislators on their or your council’s Facebook page.
Communicate with legislators
Communicate with your legislators regularly to keep them informed of the council's work.
- Invite them to meetings, forums, performances and events.
- Write letters and postcards.
- Keep legislators informed about council events, challenges and successes.
- Let them know repeatedly that council members' political choices - voting and making political contributions - depend on public support for cultural funding.
- Develop a LCC Fact Sheet for your legislators.
- Thank legislators for their time and consideration. Give them the opportunity to look good by helping the cultural community.
How do other LCC Members interact with their legislators?
Elected Municipal Officials
While state legislators determine the funding levels of the MCC and therefore the LCCs. Your elected municipal officials are important allies in prompting arts and culture locally. The same strategies described above can help ensure that your LCC gets the support it needs from local elected officials. Building the relationship can make it easier to:
- Get new members appointments made in a timely fashion.
- Ask for in-kind support such as printing, mailing, or office space.
- Secure municipal funds to supplement your state allocation.
If you are interested in pursuing additional support from your municipal officials, including municipal funds, read more in the Your Municipality section
Keep MCC informed
Keep your MCC staff contact informed on council advocacy efforts. Let them know when the council meets with legislators, and what the outcome is. Let them know about support from local leaders and successful alliances across fields.
LCC members can also complete the annual LCC Advocacy Survey to let us know about what advocacy calls to action you may be interested in.
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Involving your grantees is an important part of advocacy that can increase the reach of your council's voice exponentially and tell the real story of the impact of the funding in your community.
Encourage grantees to publicize LCC funded programs
Increasing visibility of LCC funded programs is an important first step for advocacy to be successful:
Connect grantees with their legislators
It is important to remind grantees that LCC funds are made possible by the state legislature:
- Encourage applicants to send thank you letters to their legislators and to invite legislators to funded events.
- Hold a grant reception and invite legislators to give your grantees the opportunity to tell their own story.
- Encourage grantees to invite elected officials to LCC funded projects and events.
Send grantees "calls to action"
Enlist grantees to support calls for public funding of arts and culture:
- Keep grantees informed about the state budget process and how it impacts them.
- Share advocacy "calls to action" with your grantees and encourage them to forward them to their networks.
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Building coalitions and coordinating advocacy activities with neighboring cultural councils can help make a stronger case for support. Legislators have many demands on their time. If you include other councils, legislators are more likely to attend. Sponsor a regional meeting for the cultural councils in your area and your legislators.
MCC's Advocacy Action Center
You can learn about arts and cultural advocacy opportunities in Massachusetts by visiting the MCC's Advocacy Action Center. There you will find information about:
- The state budget process
- State elected officials that support arts, humanities and sciences
- Sample letters for specific issues
- Key research to help you make the case
- Advocacy tips
- Info about who can advocate and how
Americans for the Arts
- Americans for the Arts Creative Industry Reports: Login to the website to download a customized Creative Industries map for your county or state legislative district showing arts-related jobs and businesses. Make sure your representative is aware of the presence of these creative organizations and the jobs they support.
- Check out national Issues facing the arts Americans for the Arts' Legislative Issues Center.
- Advocacy 101: The video below was made by Americans for the Arts for National Arts Advocacy Day and includes a 10 minute run down of advocacy tips and strategies that you can use at the local, state level and national level.
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
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