Tag Archives: legislation update

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 Solidifies Federal Arts Relationships

On August 25, AFM International President Ray Hair traveled to Washington, DC, to strengthen our ties with federal arts leaders. This full day of activity ended with solid gains in our relationships with two of our nation’s most historic and highly valued arts agencies.

National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chair Dr. Jane Chu graciously hosted a meeting with AFM President Ray Hair and myself

to discuss how the AFM and the NEA can work together moving the endowment’s agenda. Chu, who is an accomplished pianist, studied music growing up. She eventually received a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and music education from Ouachita Baptist University, as well as master’s degrees in music and piano pedagogy from Southern Methodist University. Chu also holds a master’s degree in business administration from Rockhurst University and a

L to R) NEA Chair Jane Chu, AFM President Ray Hair, AFM Legislative Director Alfonso Pollard, and NEA Music & Opera Director Ann Meier Baker at NEA headquarters in Washington, DC.

L to R) NEA Chair Jane Chu, AFM President Ray Hair, AFM Legislative Director Alfonso Pollard, and NEA Music & Opera Director Ann Meier Baker at NEA headquarters in Washington, DC.

PhD in philanthropic studies from Indiana University.

Our meeting was also attended by National Endowment for the Arts Music & Opera Director Ann Meier, who is an accomplished vocalist, with a long list of outstanding vocal and administrative credits. After some discussion between Hair and Chu about their undergraduate and graduate studies in the North Texas area, the conversation shifted to NEA programs and how these programs support a broad range of community arts and professional organizations that help support the careers of AFM musicians. Chu also gave a quick overview of her newest initiative “Creativity Connects,” which will examine how the arts are central to the nation’s “creativity ecosystem” and investigate how support systems for the arts have changed. The project also will explore how the arts connect with other industries.

In addition, the NEA celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year and Chu extended a personal invitation to Hair to encourage AFM members to participate in the agency’s “Tell Us Your Story” project. The goal is to gather stories about how the arts have influenced your life. The link to the project is http://arts.gov/tell-us-your-story. Hair strongly encourages all AFM members to visit the site and leave powerful stories about themselves and their artistic lives. We feel that AFM members have some of the most compelling stories in the industry. Take a moment to reveal yourselves.

Smithsonian Museum

(L to R) Curator of American Music John Edward Hasse with AFM President Ray Hair and AFM Legislative Director Alfonso Pollard at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

(L to R) Curator of American Music John Edward Hasse with AFM President Ray Hair and AFM Legislative Director Alfonso Pollard at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Later in the day, Hair followed up on a special invitation from Dr. John Edward Hasse, curator of American music at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. For decades, Hasse has interacted with the AFM and with AFM musicians, especially in the Washington, DC, area. His unique invitation included a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum with an eye toward partnering with the AFM to possibly acquire historic union documentation that outlines professional work by some of America’s greatest artists and prominent AFM members.

Aside from sharing background about some of the museum’s most precious musical artifacts, we visited locations within the museum that are being developed as new performance sites. However, one of the most important aspects of the visit included a discussion about how the Smithsonian can partner with the AFM to acquire relevant performance artifacts of the most renowned AFM members, past and present.

This is an exciting project and Hair has promised to work with Hasse on possibilities. AFM members with ideas must first contact Hair or myself. Of course, these artifacts will involve only materials of the highest value and quality and there is no guarantee of acceptance of every idea. However, your thoughts are always welcome. Feel free to reach out to our office.