Last night I attended a program as part of the Arts and Humanities Month Celebration.  Two people spoke about advocacy for the arts and arts education; topics a bit outside of my normal orbit, so it was interesting to hear them speak with passion about the work that is to be done in these areas.

Tracey Rush, director of the Northeast Iowa School of Music, reminded the audience that we have two hands.  “Use one hand to pat yourself and others on the back,” she said, encouraging people to celebrate the success that they have had.  “Use the other to keep fighting.”  

Mary Luehrsen, the director of the International Association of Music Merchandisers spoke about the need to articulate a clear message and stop giving the arts away to schools for free.  She believes that arts educators and non-profits can be their own worst enemy when they introduce arts into schools, but don’t believe that they can charge the schools for it.  “We devalue our own work,” she said.  Luehrsen believes that advocacy is an on-going process — that “if you’re not on the bus, you’re under it”, and sharing the message needs to be continuous.

What cause is out there that could benefit from your voice?  Maybe it’s not arts education, but surely there is a non-profit in whose mission you believe.  In addition to writing your donation check this year, write a letter to your legislator in support of the organization’s work.  Share your voice as well as your funds.  In this day of giving by text, advocacy is even more of a treasure.

— beth triplett

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