Advocacy

Joining the conversation on May 9th is just one way to advocate for (public) humanities in our communities. Below are some suggestions for further action, organizations to follow and causes to support. If you have any ideas or additions for these lists, let Inge know at inge_zwart(at)brown(dot)edu

Stay informed and be alarmed. Make sure you know what you are advocating for. Americans for the Arts has a helpful list of legislative issues affecting the arts that we should support. They include Arts Education Policy and Funding, Charitable Giving & Tax Reform, National Endowment for the Arts, Artists, Entrepreneurs and the Creative Economy as important legislation to know about. Americans for the Arts also has an Action Center to keep you informed about current campaigns that need direct support.

Reach out to your representatives. You have probably heard this one before. The importance of letting your congressional representatives know about your interest in the continuation of NEA, NEH or other programs can’t be overstated. You can find your local representative here. Consider calling or writing them, visit a town hall meeting to voice your opinion or set up an office appointment. There are many toolkits out there to help you think through reaching out to your representatives. We thought this one is very helpful.

Support your state humanities council. Find yours through this nifty tool by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH), suggests to support them in the following ways:

  1. Write to the council to tell share what the (public) humanities mean to you personally.
  2. Share the same story with your congressional delegation. Write or call them so that they can use your story to advocate for support of the NEH or NEA.
  3. If you can, make a donation to RICH’s annual fund.  

Know your data. Want to be armed with more than a personal story about the value of the humanities? The College Art Association suggests keeping track of important data and information regarding the arts and humanities in the USA.

  • Take a look at the Humanities Landscapes Map created by the National Humanities Alliance. In addition to being an incredible useful tool to create new networks, the map shows the incredible vastness of humanities organizations working in communities nationwide.
  • The Humanities Indicators by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is stocked with data that proves the impact of humanities programs. Want to see similar data about the arts? Take a look at what DataArts could offer you.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities has a couple of helpful pages to look through: download their Impact Reports, take a look at their featured projects and search for NEH grants awarded.
  • Americans for the Arts also has a great overview of how much state governments allocate to the arts. It shows how much they have cut and spent over the past two years.

Take your advocacy online. Are you excited about hashtags and want to do more online advocacy than just on May 9th for #DayofPH? Join Julie Andrews (she’s on twitter, you should be too!) by sharing why you need the NEA with #SaveNEA or the NEH with #SaveNEH and #NEHmatters. If you feel particularly strong about the Public Broadcasting Service – who doesn’t – use #ILovePBS. Some other hashtags to follow are #museumadvocacy, #skinnybudget, NS #SaveIMLS. For some inspiration look at Jerry Saltz tweeting which NEA and NEH sponsored institutions Ivanka Trump visited recently.

Sign a petition. Why not make change.org your homepage – new petitions to sign come in daily!

Campaigns by organizations that advocate for the arts and humanities. There are many!

  • The National Humanities Alliance fight against the proposed elimination of funding for the humanities, international education programs and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
  • The American Alliance of Museums ask museums to mobilize against proposed budget cuts. They have a template letter to write your congress representatives, a guide for board members to advocate, and suggest that museums write an economic impact statement. Also consider using their general online advocacy guide.
  • The National Coalition for History organizes the Congressional History Caucus, a resource for Congress and a tool for better representation of archivists, students and historians in congress. Join their campaign by asking your representative to join the congressional history caucus.
  • The American Association for State and Local Histories has a great list of steps to take in support of history and museums.
  • Of course, the National Endowment for the Humanities, are advocating for the humanities. Read their statement on the proposed elimination of NEH in FY18 Budget here. Keep track of their news page for updates about their campaigns.
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