Arts Day is a 2 day annual conference of Arts & Action held in Raleigh, North Carolina where people from all over North Carolina gather to advance the Arts in our state. Most of the year arts lovers work tirelessly to create art pieces and further arts organizations, but for this 2 day conference advocacy efforts are taken to promote a plan to sustain the arts for our state.
Waking up at 4 in the morning to travel to Raleigh for day 2 of Arts Day “Legislative Day”, I was eager to speak to my city legislators about increasing certain budgets for the arts. Caffeinated and ready to go, I awaited the events opening kick-off. Speakers included: Sec. Susi Hamilton from the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Singer/Songwriter/Activist Laurelyn Dosset, and Arts NC Executive Director Karen Wells. Sec. Hamilton was extremely moving with her speech on her passion for the arts and words of wisdom for the crowd on their journey of speaking directly to house representatives and senators, “Smile. Be polite, and don’t take any stuff from them!”
After, critically-acclaimed song writer Laurelyn Dosset performed without any music a song about the battle between money and the world’s resources. You can check her out on her website here! “Singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett lives and writes in the piedmont of North Carolina, and her songs tend to reflect the stories of the region, both traditional and contemporary. One of the most sought-after voices in creative collaborations, she has toured with Rhiannon Giddens, folk legend Alice Gerrard and composer/violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain. She premiered composer Kenneth Frazelle’s song cycle, Songs in the Rear View Mirror, and has toured with the North Carolina Symphony. She has appeared on Prairie Home Companion and at various music festivals with Polecat Creek, a band she co-founded with Kari Sickenberger” (laurelyndosset.com).
Meeting with Legislators
What is great about lobbying for arts funding is that the issue is bipartisan. I met with both republican and democratic House Representatives and had great experiences with both. When lobbying for Arts Day you can join others and go as a group. The intimidation of speaking with Representatives and Senators lessens when you have others with you to also speak.
One of my favorite Representatives to meet with was Representative Chaz Beasley, of Mecklenburg county. It was a bonus that he is already a supporter of the arts. In fact, he actually donates personal funds to the arts every year and used to be a member of the Arts and Science Council Young Donor Society. Chaz is also an extremely down to earth, understanding, and friendly person, which you can pick up on within seconds of speaking with him. He even made time to snap a quick photo with my group! Knowing that he grew up in a low-income, single parent home and went on to graduate from Harvard with honors gave me incite as to why Chaz has such a strong passion behind promoting education and equality.
The Day’s Events
For the legislators and for the Arts Day attendees, Arts Day had several art pieces and performances for day 2 of Arts Day. The two art pieces that caught my eye the most were these giant art pieces that looked like puppets!
During legislative meetings performances were also going on. I was able to see the “Terra Tunes” from Tar River Elementary perform a few songs as well as “Pitch Please” from Northwood High School. “Pitch Please” is actually heading to a contemporary a capella music concert at Carnegie Hall this Sunday! My favorite performance by then was their a capella take on Beyonce’s song I was here. Lastly, the “Kidznotes All-Star Trio” performed. Two violinists and one cellist jammed out and completely killed it! I was more than impressed with all of the performers at Arts Day.
Things I learned from Going
Heading to Arts Day, I thought we were going to be doing most of the teaching to legislators about the arts. However, I was able to learn so much. Some legislators gave tips on how to speak to others about the arts, speakers explained their passion for the arts, and I learned more about navigating the world of legislation a little better. Preparing for the event and researching ways to persuade legislators to increase the budget, I learned how to speak the language of legislators and learned a lot about the arts. I learned that the arts are important for the economy. It attracts businesses to cities, and makes individuals looking for jobs more valuable because they possess a creativity that inartistic people may not. The arts help students stay in school and give them an outlet to express themselves. There are so many reasons why the arts are important. You can find a few here! If you’re interested in advocating for the arts, Arts NC has a great advocacy powerpoint and page on their website.
I would absolutely recommend you registering for next years Arts Day. If you go to the Arts NC website, you can keep up with information about registering for next year!