Graduate Students Aid in Budget Increase for National Art Agencies

group of people dressed in professional clothing with a bookcase in the background

Graduate students in MSU’s Arts & Cultural Management program, along with adjunct faculty member Sarah Triplett, attended the Arts Advocacy Day conference in Washington, D.C., March 12-13.

Arts Advocacy Day is organized each year by Americans for the Arts to emphasize the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating public funding for the arts. 

The conference comprised of more than 500 arts advocates from across the country and, of those, 42 came from Michigan including 15 MSU students, 10 of whom are graduate students in Triplett’s Policy and Advocacy for Arts and Cultural Management class. Triplett and Dionne O’Dell, Academic Specialist in the Department of Theatre, also attended the conference.

The Michigan attendees visited with legislators and staff from every Michigan Congressional district on behalf of the arts in Michigan and across the country.

“It’s empowering to stand alongside hundreds of other passionate advocates from all across the country who share your vision for the arts, culture, and creative sector and who are willing to use their voice and experience to make a difference,” said Triplett, who, in addition to being an adjunct faculty member in MSU’s Arts & Cultural Management program, is the Director of Public Policy for Creative Many, a statewide organization that promotes creativity in individuals, places, and in the economy through advocacy and research. Triplett also serves as the State Captain from Michigan for the State Arts Action Network (SAAN) at Americans for the Arts.

The first day of the Arts Advocacy Day conference attendees engaged in interactive advocacy training and attended the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The following day, they met with their local Members of Congress and Senators to share stories about the impact and power of the arts in their communities.

large group posing in front of red curtain, american flag, and state of michigan flag
MSU students with National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chair Jane Chu

“Arts Advocacy Day is a great opportunity to connect with individuals from across the country to learn about the successes they are having in their states, discuss issues happening at the federal level, and to identify work to bring back to Michigan,” Triplett said. “Most importantly, arts advocates attend meetings on Capitol Hill and speak directly with their congressional members to tell them why the arts are important to them, are critically important to their communities, and that the decisions they make in Washington, D.C., impact their constituents back home.”

On March 14, the day after the conference, Congress released the details of the FY 2018 spending bill. The bill allocates an increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The budget for each agency is now $152,849 million, a $3 million increase from 2017. Arts advocates who attended the conference, along with those who signed petitions and contacted members of Congress, can feel happy that their actions made an impact on this.