La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego, CA. Photo by Jim Carmody. La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego, CA. Photo by Jim Carmody.
Yes it is! Collecting and providing quality data for arts advocacy is an essential part of DataArts mission. Earlier this year we launched a new service which provides one click access to data about the arts sector within a particular legislative district. This service is intended to be offered as a subscription service to advocates, but in response to the release of a draft federal budget proposal in March (which eliminated funding for the NEA, IMLS, and NEH), DataArts has made this tool available for free until the end of the federal fiscal year on October 1.
A great first step is to contact your elected officials directly to express your support for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). You can make use of tools available from groups like Americans for the Arts, The Performing Arts Alliance, and the American Alliance of Museums to help you contact your officials online.
You should also consider calling your officials, or even requesting a meeting at their local offices. Your organization is an important presence in your official’s district that provides jobs and improves the lives of their constituents. If these federal institutions are a source of funding or otherwise important to your organization, now is the time to share that with your elected officials.
If you meet with your officials, consider bringing along your Annual Report from DataArts to help you paint a picture of your organization’s activities. Make sure to share a quick story or show photos alongside the data to make it personal.
You can access a DataArts report about your state, or if you are a DataArts user, you can log in and run a custom report for your legislative district, or another geographic boundary you choose. This data will help you talk about the broader arts sector in your area.
To incorporate this report into your advocacy, pull out a couple of talking points about the arts in your area. For example, you could talk about the number of jobs that arts organizations in your area provide, or the amount of federal funding they receive. You can use these talking points with officials, the media, or on social media.
Whenever you use data in an advocacy context, you should know where it comes from and how to answer questions about it.
This data represents all the arts organizations in an area who participate in DataArts. This isn’t an exhaustive count, but in many areas it includes a large portion of the arts organizations who receive funding from government or private sources. Each advocacy report provides the number of organizations included in the report in the top right hand corner.
Total Paid Positions on the report includes full time, part time, and independent contractor positions. The report also provides the number of volunteers, board members, and Full Time Equivalents (FTEs).
Direct Expenditures on the report includes all direct expenses reported by organizations.
Total Attendance includes all attendees reported by organizations. This number is a sum of attendance counts for each organization in the report, and is not a reflection of unique attendees or participants.
Arts advocacy is an ongoing effort, and DataArts is committed to continuing to provide data and other resources for advocates. If you are new to advocacy, or not sure how to get started, check out our free online course, Making the Case: Advocacy Basics for Arts Leaders.
In the course, we provide resources to help you develop a relationship with your elected officials, even if you don’t have a particular issue to discuss, including four steps to set up and carry out a successful first meeting. The course also covers messaging with data, communicating with officials, and planning advocacy campaigns.
Your data entered into the CDP becomes part of a larger picture about the arts sector. DataArts provides data to advocates through the Advocacy Report and in other formats including a full data export, to help them illustrate the footprint of the sector and its reach in individual communities. This data, along with stories about the impact of the arts on quality of life and other outcomes for citizens, is an important tool for many advocates. You can see examples of research or advocacy efforts using CDP data on our website.