Remember: You are the expert!

When contacting or meeting with policymakers (politicians), you’ll need a tangible answer for the question, “Who cares about this?”

Show your policymaker that people support your issue, and will be constant in that support. Take, for example, the American Association of Museums’ call to action:

  • “If every museum professional, volunteer, and trustee spent just 15 minutes once a week on advocacy, our local, state, and national elected officials would be far better informed about the critical role museums play in strengthening and enriching our society” (Speak up for Museums, 2010, p79,*

As a creator and/or consumer of art, take a few minutes to contact your federal, provincial, municipal, local representatives. You can help jump the “who cares about this?” hurdle. As an artist, highlight your own works and experiences to better inform policy makers. Contact your decision-makers to express gratitude for any funding/support that they made to your art. Highlight the interest it generated. Show, “who cares about it.”

* see also: Making the Case for Museums: 75 Advocacy Ideas in 75 Minutes, Alliance Annual Meeting. Baltimore, May 19, 2013

When to Advocate:

Advocate when it can make a difference.

For example, advocating for program-funding might make a difference when a budget is being put together -- advocating for program funding after the budget speech will not.

For example, see:

When to Lobby

  • Do:
    • Before a Committee Hearing
    • Before the vote
    • While Legislation is being drafted
  • Do Not:
    • In a restaurant
    • At church
    • At a legislator's child’s soccer game


Tips for Effective Advocacy

Be credible

  • Credibility is derived from being articulate, courteous and reasonable to realities of decision-makers
  • Be prepared to offer facts

Demonstrate broad-based support

Be informed about all sides of an issue

  • Know decision-making process, determine best time to make your case for public support of the arts.

Listen carefully, analyze what is important to target group and how both groups’ needs can be met

Separate politics from advocacy efforts

Anticipate opposition:

  • Never repeat a negative, keep answers positive
  • Respond quickly but don’t overreact

Maintain good working relationship with decision-makers

  • Be proactive in your advocacy efforts. -  easier to obtain help if a trusted relationship established
  • Changes can take time – don’t give up.
  • Never burn bridges.
  • Focus on solution, not the problem (don’t whine, show the value of what you can do). Keep answers positive
  • Do not criticize, get personal or be defensive

Always say thank you