Tag Archives: arts advocacy day

The Power of Advocacy

Each year, the AFM joins its national partners to promote the power of music along with the effect it has on our communities. The months of March and April serve as key music advocacy months in Washington, DC. Along with the direct lobbying advanced at critical times by AFM President Ray Hair and me, hundreds of others converge on the nation’s capital each year to have their voices heard. Here is an overview of the annual national advocacy projects we engage.

Arts Advocacy Day

AFM Legislative-Political Director Alfonso Pollard (left) greets Representative John Lewis (D-GA) during Arts Advocacy Day.

In March, the AFM joined with more than 700 members of the labor and nonprofit communities to participate in the largest advocacy meeting of the year. Sponsored by Americans for the Arts, Arts Advocacy Day has become a national benchmark for the arts community. Each year, the week-long event is hosted by the AFM and more than 87 national arts partners across the US, from Arizona to Washington State and from Florida, north to Vermont. The event also boasts congressional support from co-chairs Representatives Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

This year’s event centered on support for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. White House threats to shutdown the agencies resounded across the country giving national sponsors the impetus to come to Washington.

Beyond the Red Carpet

This successful event is an annual Federal government showcase that brings together scores of organizations that participate in the magical effects of television and film making. It is sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of America in cooperation with the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus co-chaired by Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Doug Collins (R-GA). This year, the AFM booth was staffed by AFM Legislative-Political Director Alfonso Pollard, and AFM-RMA Representatives Gail Kruvand of Locals 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and 802 (New York City) and violinist Elizabeth Hedman of Locals 47 and 308 (Santa Barbara, CA) who performed selections from notable Hollywood film scores recorded by AFM-RMA sound-scoring musicians. The event hosted more than 500 guests, including 28 senators/representatives.

Violinist and AFM member Elizabeth Hedman with Stormtroopers.

Celebrating the Dean
of the New York Delegation

Representative Louise Slaughter was recently elevated to the position of Dean of the New York Delegation. As the Representative of the 25th Congressional District of New York, she has gained the trust and respect of the entire New York Congressional Delegation, which is one of the most powerful delegations in the US Congress. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus and Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, Slaughter was elected to this

Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY).

position after years of dedicated service to Congress.

A string of high-ranking Democrats attended a reception in honor of her accomplishments at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers headquarters in Washington, DC. Each honored Slaughter, one of the AFM’s strongest champions, as one of Congress’s best legislators. For years, she chaired the bi-partisan Congressional Arts Caucus whose 160 members, time and time again, have reached out to their colleagues in support of the arts and artists across the country. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke along with Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer who each praised Slaughter for her years of service to our nation.

The musicFIRST Coalition

The musicFIRST Coalition comprises Sound Exchange, SAG-AFTRA, the AFM, the Recording Industry Association of America, American Association of Independent Music, Christian Music Trade Association, the Recording Academy, the Latin Recording Academy, the Music Managers Forum, Rhythm and Blues Foundation, the Society of Singers, and the Vocal Group. The Music First Coalition website describes the organization as follows: “The musicFIRST Coalition was founded by a broad spectrum of organizations representing musicians, recording artists, managers, music businesses, and performance right advocates. We’ve since then expanded our unanimous music industry support to include dozens of partner organizations and groups supporting a performance right. And of course, the fantastic community of musicians and recording artists.”

The group, which is comprised of some of the brightest legal minds in the copyright and intellectual property arenas, meets weekly to develop strategies relating to such important issues as performance rights, copyright reform, and other matters that relate to the advancement of musicians rights before Congress. High on the group’s agenda is the passage of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, which provides a royalty for creators whose music is performed on AM/FM radio.

AFM Co-Sponsors Arts Advocacy Day

Each spring, Americans for the Arts, one of the nation’s largest, most effective, and most influential arts advocacy organizations, sponsors a week-long summit of activities in the nation’s capital centered on a national day of advocacy/lobbying, Arts Advocacy Day. Each year, the AFM is a national co-sponsor. As a co-sponsor, the Federation is involved in pre-event legislative planning and event organizing. In addition, over the years, the union has cooperated in congressional office visits with its counterparts from arts organizations across the country. This year, more than 500 arts advocates representing these organizations converged on Washington, DC, to promote a wide range of policy issues that are critical to sustaining a national arts presence on Capitol Hill and throughout the US.

Geographic lobbying groups expressed their support for a broad range of policy issues. These issues include: support for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), NEA and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) budget appropriations, US Department of Education funding for Arts in Education, strengthening arts education in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), tax reform that encourages charitable giving to the arts, fair market value tax deductions for works donated to charitable organizations, the Office of Museum Services, public broadcasting, community media (local television), Department of State cultural exchange programs, improved visa processing for foreign guest artists through USCIS, arts in health, protecting wireless technology for arts and media, and net neutrality.

The Nancy Hanks Lecture

This year, as in previous years, the Nancy Hanks Lecture series was held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The lecture, a centerpiece of the week’s events, featured the Atlanta Youth Orchestra and other diverse artists. Tribute was paid to Jack Golodner, Esq., former AFM member and founding director of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees. Golodner played a pivotal role in the creation of the National Council on the Arts and was instrumental in the development of the Kennedy Center.

Keynote speaker for the evening was television producer, author, and social activist Norman Lear. Lear’s comments centered on the power of the arts and humanities to unite mankind when all seems lost. He spoke about how he used the art of storytelling to create the platform for one of the most renowned national political organizations in this country, People for the American Way. He said that American culture cannot and must not be out of touch with humanity. He also spoke about how messages from his television shows helped establish moral certainty in the lives of many actors and others in America who carry forward the torch of cultural harmony.

Opening Plenary

The AFM was represented at this year’s opening plenary by Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) President Edgardo Malaga, Kennedy Center Opera House trombonist and Local 161-710 board member and legislative-political coordinator Doug Rosenthal, and me. More than 500 arts organization delegates from across the country were briefed on legislative lobbying issues.

Keynote speaker for the event was National Endowment for the Arts Chair Jane Chu. Chu discussed the importance of the delegates’ presence in Washington, DC, and how their efforts lend much needed support to the federal mission of promoting and preserving the arts in America. She talked about how the NEA’s mission goes beyond funding to advocacy for critically unique programs like Art Works, Challenge America, and Our Town. The organization also promotes and supports research relating to arts and healing through special partnerships, plus special programs focused on the arts and the military.

White House Briefing

National Symphony Orchestra violist and ICSOM governing board member Jennifer Mondie, a member of Local 161-710, and I represented the AFM at the annual White House briefing. This forum allowed White House and federal agency staff to provide an extensive overview of Obama Administration support for the arts in terms of funding, outreach, program modeling, research, and metrics. Agency programs focused on in-depth analysis of the impact of the arts and their intrinsic value, as well as the economic enrichment the arts provide to American communities. This data is shared with Congress, and now also with more state and municipal government agencies. It is available to arts organizations seeking qualified research necessary to improve their programs.

Though the title “Arts Advocacy Day” seems to imply a one-day gathering, in reality, it is a weeklong series of events. The 2015 Congressional Arts Handbook from Americans for the Arts provides useful data and statistics for arts organizations. You can download a copy at: www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/legislation-policy/legislative-issue-center/congressional-arts-handbook.

Local 161-710 member Douglas Rosenthal

Local 161-710 member Douglas Rosenthal

Local 161-710 (Washington D.C.) PResident Edgardo Malaga

Local 161-710 (Washington D.C.) PResident Edgardo Malaga

Local 161-710 member Jennifer Mondie

Local 161-710 member Jennifer Mondie