- Who are my state Senators and Representatives? Where can I find information about the North Carolina General Assembly, including contact information and bills?
- Who are my local city, county, and school board officials?
- What is Arts Day?
- What are Arts North Carolina’s Core Messages?
- How can I use these core messages to tell our story?
- What is advocacy and how does it differ from lobbying?
- Can state employees and board members of non-profit organizations practice advocacy?
- Are nonprofit organizations prohibited from lobbying?
- What is involved in being a good advocate for the arts?
- How can I learn more about becoming an arts advocate?
- Does Arts North Carolina offer training?
- What issues are included in ARTS North Carolina’s Advocacy Program and what has been accomplished?
- What is a Call to Action?
Who are my state Senators and Representatives? Where can I find information about the North Carolina General Assembly, including contact information and bills?
Find out information on Senators and Representatives by going to the North Carolina General Assembly website at www.ncleg.net. Click on House or Senate and then click through to member lists. You will find Raleigh and home addresses, e-mail, phone numbers, and brief biographical information.
For information about any bill, use the bill lookup tool at the top of the North Carolina General Assembly website.
Who are my local city, county, and school board officials?
The most reliable information on all elected officials can be found through your local State Board of Elections: www.sboe.state.nc.us.
What is Arts Day?
Arts Day is the annual North Carolina Legislative event that champions and rallies grassroots advocacy for the arts. Facilitating effective face-to-face contact with legislators, Arts Day sets the stage for celebration, strategy, and communication and positions the arts as essential to North Carolina’s economy, education and civic life.
What are ARTS North Carolina’s Core Messages?
- The arts make money for North Carolina.
- The arts create jobs in North Carolina.
- The arts revitalize our cities and towns.
- The arts improve public education and are a “ready-now” strategy for 21st Century Skills training.
- The arts are a long-standing identity for North Carolina. We are The Creative State.
- The arts help us connect to and understand cultures different from our own.
- The arts change lives.
How can I use these core messages to tell our story?
ARTS North Carolina recommends that advocacy networks assess their communities’ issues, then select messages that are relevant based on research and strategy. For example, one community might have arts attractions that are definitively drawing tourists. Their case statement might have a stronger emphasis on the arts make money for North Carolina. If another community is working on tech small business recruitment, their case statement might have a stronger emphasis on the arts revitalize our cities and towns.
Core messages should contain both research and personal story. Use data to support your talking points, but make sure to bring the message home. One Senator recently said, “If you have a story to tell, tell it.”
What is advocacy and how does it differ from lobbying?
Arts advocacy is communicating the value of the arts. Advocacy should be intentional, organized, and unified.
Can state employees and board members of non-profit organizations practice advocacy?
Individuals should check with their Human Resource departments about policies related to advocacy or lobbying in their workplace. While common sense must be applied, individuals are allowed to participate in the political process on their own time unless prohibited as a provision of their employment.
Are nonprofit organizations prohibited from lobbying?
Advocacy is not an illegal activity and, in fact, should be a responsibility of any individual who believes the arts are essential. Arts non-profit organizations are prohibited from any attempts to influence an election.
The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) states, “The federal tax law defines lobbying specifically and narrowly as a communication with a legislator in reference to a specific piece of legislation with a request to support or oppose that legislation.” NASSA information further explains that charities have been allowed to spend no more than 5% of total expenditures on lobbying. However, if the non-profit organization files a 501(h) provision with the IRS they are allowed expenditures of up to 20% of their annual budget for their lobbying activities.
What is involved in being a good advocate for the arts?
Connect with an advocacy network in your community.
- This may likely be with a local arts council or arts organization. Call and volunteer. If your community does not already have a network, form one.
- Understand that relationships are built over time.
Be proactive in taking your message to people who need to hear about the value of the arts. Examples might include:
- Volunteering or contributing to a political campaign.
- Meet personally and talk about how the arts are part of the solution to economic and education challenges; follow up with regular communications and new data.
- Include officials on all mailing lists and invite them to be special guests at events.
- Encourage officials to make supportive statements about the arts then use those statements in a variety of communications. Make the arts something people want to support because it gives them positive attention, especially from the press and voters in their districts.
- Always use printed materials and curtain speeches to include a statement about arts value.
- If you receive money from local, state, or federal government, invite your officials and the press to a board meeting to announce the award and how the money will be used. If the funding supports an on-going program, have a student or benefitting adult present to give a testimony about the program’s effectiveness.
How can I learn more about becoming an arts advocate?
When asked how she learned to weave, one of North Carolina’s old-timers replied, “Well, honey, the learnin’s in the doin’.” Advocacy does not require innate talent or a law degree. The more you advocate the better you become. It is an enjoyable experience to know you have made a positive difference.
- The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies has a one-stop shop for everything you need to know to be an arts advocate: Advocacy Tools
- If there is a leading arts advocacy organization in your community (typically a local arts council or arts organization), call and find out about their advocacy program. Volunteer.
- Form an advocacy organization if none exists where you live.
- Focus your issues, do research, and build your core messages.
- Make a plan to begin building or growing relationships with local, state, and federal elected officials.
- Make the call.
Does Arts North Carolina offer training?
Arts North Carolina provides Advocacy Training workshops to communities who want to develop their advocacy programs. Twenty-five workshops are offered 2010-11 in twenty different North Carolina cities. To schedule an advocacy workshop in your area, call or e-mail Karen Wells at 919/834-1411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What issues are included in Arts North Carolina’s Advocacy Program, and what has been accomplished?
Arts North Carolina advocates for funding from the General Assembly to support the grants programs of the North Carolina Arts Council. In 2006, Arts North Carolina became the leading voice for arts education reform in public schools. Agenda items such as an arts specialty license plate, gross receipts tax exemption, and sales tax issues are considered yearly based on the needs and concerns of the field.
From 2002-08 ARTS North Carolina’s advocacy program secured an 82% increase in recurring grants funds. From 2009-11, advocates worked with the Department of Cultural Resources to sustain recurring funding in the General Assembly. Click here to see NCAC grant funding history. All non-profit arts organizations are now exempt from a 3% gross receipts tax and ARTS North Carolina continues to work on license plate and sales tax issues. The unanimous passage of Senate Bill 66 in the House and Senate created a Comprehensive Arts Education Plan for K-12.
What is a Call to Action?
Arts North Carolina coordinates strategy and communication to advance our legislative agenda. We utilize a national program called Capwiz which makes it easy and efficient to communicate. If you subscribe to our listserv, you will receive Call to Action messages that will ask you to Take Action through e-mail, hard copy letters, phone calls, and personal visits. Click here to see active Call To Action alerts.