While I would love to tell you that I sprang full-grown from the foam of the artistic sea, I actually earned my degree in geology and English Composition. Part of that research scientist nerdiness is still with me, however, and development research makes me drool a little. Ok, a lot.
So when The Arts Index (a project of Americans for the Arts) came to my attention, I was super stoked. Not only was it a research project, but its data is readily useable by those who need it. (As much as I love research, I admit that getting relevant findings to the public in a useable way is often an issue.)
Don’t jump all over me. I didn’t say I hate the Arts, or advocacy, or even Arts advocacy. I am all for those things. But Arts Advocacy Day, not so much. (Though I do have to say, this poster is, frankly, pretty marvy.)
I suppose I should qualify my statement a little bit. It’s not so much that I hate the idea of Arts Advocacy Day. Often, people go into it with the wrong mindset, and that bugs me. I used to be one of those people. I would arrive home from a day in Albany, NY (our state capital, and a four-hour round trip) frustrated and tired because I didn’t feel like I had even made a dent. It’s easy to get discouraged as a young professional who is passionate about your cause. You’ll rarely find a representative that is as passionate about it, but it’s (usually) not because they don’t care.
I used to be an advocate for environmental causes in college, and I worked as a canvasser for Citizens Campaign for the Environment for a time. I get it, I do. I know what advocacy accomplishes and why we do it.
There is a fine line between solidarity and white noise. If you go to Advocacy Day to tell your reps anything about your own organization, you can almost guarantee it will get drowned out by the sheer volume of stories that they are hearing that day. Representatives and their assistants (the good ones, anyway, of which the ones in my district fortunately are) do listen and want to help, but they’re not superhuman.