by Jini Stolk
An alert reader of my previous post on advocacy at City Hall pointed out that it’s equally important for arts organizations to stay in touch with their provincial representatives – invite them to events, thank them for grants from the Ontario Arts Council and Trillium Foundation, and let them know the impact your work is having on the health and dynamism of the communities they represent.
When Toronto School Board trustees voted recently to save music instruction from proposed budget cuts, many noted that the outcry against these cuts was the biggest they’d ever seen. As a community, we’re often very good at rallying against cutbacks and other threats. Music Makes Us, a longstanding coalition of teachers, students and parents who value music education in schools (providing “everything you need to help champion music education in your communities”) made sure that their membership spoke out loudly on this issue.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to work together to create the ongoing awareness, personal connections and widespread community support that would make cuts like those we just narrowly avoided in Toronto schools politically unpalatable? A number of people who attended the Edmonton Arts Summit are trying to start an arts advocacy organization in Canada which, like Americans for the Arts, gathers together audiences and businesses with artists and arts organizations to support the arts at the national, state and local levels.
One first step we can all take is to let politicians know that the public support they help make possible is appreciated and has an impact. Get out those thank you notes!