With More Deficit Hawks in Office, Arts Advocates Face Tough Battles Ahead

Dec 6, 2010

With newly elected officials preparing to take office, arts advocates must be proactive and prepared for some difficult budget discussions. The political composition of many governing bodies has shifted, and large numbers of freshman legislators and governors mean that arts advocates must mobilize in earnest to build relationships and educate these decision makers.

The November 2010 elections had a strong economy and jobs theme, and many candidates campaigned on promises to slash budgets. Arts advocates can anticipate that they will need to make their case early, convincingly, and strategically to retain current budget levels and to avoid significant increases.

The political composition of the U.S.
House of Representatives has changed with Republicans holding a majority of seats at 242, Democrats with 192 seats, and one seat that is vacant/to be determined. For the first time in years there may likely be floor votes to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and public broadcasting. Federal funding for arts education is also on the chopping block with Senate Republican leaders calling for a ban on earmarks, which have been a significant source of arts education funding in recent years. Additionally, as reported by Americans for the Arts and elsewhere, Republican leadership has called for weekly budget cuts, which can reasonably be anticipated to include arts and culture among other targets.

It is important to note that there are arts supportive Republicans who have been elected to Congress, and many Republican elected officials across the U.S. who are supportive of the arts. Arts advocates must be diligent in cultivating long-term relationships on both sides of the aisle.
Here is one idea for how to do so.

The United States Senate is very closely divided in terms of political composition.
The party composition of the Senate after January 3, 2011 is 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans, and 2 Independents.

Altogether, there are over 100 freshman members of Congress
who will need to be reached by arts advocates from their home states and districts.

At the state level, over 700 freshman state legislators and 28 first time governors. Again, this is a huge number of elected officials serving for the first time who will require education and information and relationship building.

Organized, strategic arts advocacy is needed more than ever to sustain and build future support for the arts.

Tags: Election, Arts Advocacy, State Legislature, Deficit Hawk, Budget Cuts

Sub Categories

ADVOCACY: Be an Advocate
ADVOCACY: Election Center
ADVOCACY: NEA / Public Funding for the Arts