Favorite Arts Advocacy Toolkits...and What Makes Arts Wisconsin's a Standout

May 18, 2011

Arts Advocacy Toolkits

A well-designed, robust arts advocacy toolkit can train and empower advocates and can support action. Below please find an annotated list of arts advocacy toolkits that highlights some of their unique features as well as toolkits from outside of the arts and what makes them useful. 

Read on to find out why Arts Wisconsin has one of the best advocacy toolkits on the Web today….
Featured Resource:
Arts Action Toolkit from Arts Wisconsin – A dynamic, current resource
One of the smartest and most robust arts advocacy toolkits around, Arts Wisconsin’s resource is notable in that it is continually updated to reflect what is happening in the budget process, making it an efficient, one-stop resource. Among the many resources are PDF’s of cleverly-designed factivist advocacy ads. There is also a section with hotlinks to press coverage relevant to arts advocacy and resources to stay connected to Wisconsin politics.

 Check out these other great resources:

Americans for the Arts Master State Arts Advocacy Handbook

This general advocacy handbook is comprised primarily of information was primarily gathered from members of Americans for the Arts' State Arts Action Network (SAAN).   

The guide includes an overview of general advocacy principles, lobbying activities, do’s and don’ts, and other useful information.  This handbook could be used as a starting point to create a customized advocacy handbook.


Arts for LA Advocacy Toolkit
This excellent resource is organized with content sequenced to correspond with increasing levels of involvement. The toolkit includes modules covering specific campaigning and advocacy skills, as well as practical aides including sample press materials, phone scripts, and planning worksheets.
Arts Education Advocacy Toolkit from The Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network
This robust resource is useful for both arts education advocates and general arts advocates. Includes sections such as Habits of Effective Arts Education Advocates, Coalitions and Networking, Creating An Effective Arts Education Advocacy Plan; examples of a Short Advocacy Statement, Testimony, a Letter to Request a Meeting with a State Legislator, Tips for Visiting a Legislator or Legislative Staff, and content on messaging.
Kansas Arts Advocacy Toolkit by the Kansas Arts Commission
From nuts and bolts information on how to become an arts advocate to information about hosting a candidate forum to sample letters to elected officials and more, this easy-to-navigate web-based toolkit is a good place to find basic arts advocacy resources.
Advocacy Toolkit – Texas Commission on the Arts
One of a series of toolkits on TCA’s website addressing topics from fundraising to marketing, this advocacy resource covers the basics.
Advocacy Primer from Arts for Colorado
This 20-page PDF includes as great Benefits of Arts Funding section with some compelling facts, and they could be adapted to different states.
This web-based and PDF format toolkit includes a section on Election Year Advocacy and election season activities for organizations and individuals. The information about how to set up a voter registration drive is a rare find in arts advocacy toolkits. There is also a useful calendar for Washington State arts advocates that might be a useful model for others creating or updating arts advocacy toolkits.

Arts Advocacy Toolkits from Outside the United States



Why the Arts Matter Toolkit from Arts Council England




This toolkit is a favorite for its easy-to-use organized format with sections like “Three Top Tips” and “Messages”. While the specific examples and arguments are from Great Britain, the basic advice and much of the messaging are useful to stateside arts advocates and others.


Alliance for Arts and Culture Toolkit – Metropolitan Vancouver



A feature of this toolkit that others might consider replicating, and arts advocates in New Hampshire have done this in a fashion, is to have well-known artists write about why they think public funding for the arts is essential and what it has meant for their careers.





General Advocacy and Other Sector Toolkits




You might find it useful to access advocacy toolkits that are not necessarily arts specific, such as those provided by statewide nonprofit associations, to ensure that you are in compliance with the law in your advocacy efforts and can provide others with that information as well. These general toolkits—or toolkits from other sectors—may provide fresh perspectives or ideas of other useful toolkit content if you are creating or updating an arts advocacy toolkit.






from Colorado Nonprofit Association












More of a portal to other Web-based resources, this toolkit provides links to such useful sites as Thomas - Legislative Information on the Internet to keep up on day-to-day legislative activities, Open Secrets - "Your Guide to the Money in U.S. Elections", and many others.







This toolkit includes a 9 Tips for Town Hall Meetings section: “If your member of Congress holds a town hall meeting in your district, make sure to attend. Use our tips to make the trip worthwhile.”






This outstanding resource provides excellent tips on everything from placing and writing Op-Eds to connecting with community opinion leaders to connecting with students to help them be advocates.


Here is a sample checklist that might be helpful to arts advocates:




10 Steps to Your Advocacy Plan


1.     Identify an Advocacy Challenge or Opportunity.


2.     Determine the Key Audiences.


3.     Find Out What Those Audiences Currently Know or Perceive.


4.     Determine How Each Audience Receives Its Information.


5.     Establish Measurable Objectives for Each Audience.


6.     Define Message Points for Each Audience.


7.     Determine the Communication Activities To Deliver Those Messages.


8.     Decide What Resources Are Necessary To Complete Each Activity.


9.     Establish a Timeline and Responsible Party for Each Activity.


10.   Evaluate Whether You Have Reached Your Objectives.




Advocacy Toolkits from The Advocacy to Control Tuberculosis Internationally (ACTION) project


This toolkit addresses a broad series of topics, including “How to Speak Powerfully,” “How to Get to Know the Staffer Who Works on Your Issue,” and “Cultivating Champions.” A great place to go to look for additional resources and advice, beyond the typical sample thank you letters and the like.

Don't see your favorite advocacy toolkit here?
 Write to dmontgomery.artsculture(at)gmail.com with the link and why you think it is a strong resource to help build this list.

Image sourced from everystockphoto.com

Tags: Toolkits, Arts Advocacy, Arts Wisconsin

Sub Categories

ADVOCACY: Resources & Links
ADVOCACY: Messaging Center