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Theatre Bay Area Executive Director Brad Erickson (Americans for the Arts’ Co Captain for California) and Managing Director Rachel Fink gathered with hundreds of arts advocates in Washington, D.C. for Americans for the Arts’ 30th annual Arts Advocacy Day to tell our Senators and Congressional representatives that we expect strong federal support for arts and culture, affordable health care, and robust protections for immigrants and civil rights.

Rachel Fink and Brad Erickson standing in front of the Capitol Building. Rachel is a light skinned woman with short dark curly hair and glasses. She is wearing a grey cardigan, black dress, neclaces and a name tag on a red chord around her neck. Brad is a white man with short grey hair and a close shaved beard. He is wearing a black suit, blue button up, and a black plaid tie.

Brad Erickson and Rachel Fink on Capitol Hill March 20, 2017               

The California delegation had 20 artists and arts leaders from around the state, evenly split between Northern and Southern California. Advocates received a full day of briefings on Monday, March 20, including updates on the political landscape for both the House and the Senate as well as current bills making their way through Congress that would impact the arts. Foremost on everyone’s mind was the President’s recently released budget, which proposes to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Report back from Executive Director Brad Erickson

Advocacy Day itself started with a kickoff event featuring Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who spoke eloquently and without notes on the value and importance of the arts in communities, individuals and our national life. Other notables included the legendary Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) and Senator Murkowski (R- AK) who received this year’s Arts Award from Americans for the Arts. As the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on the Interior, Murkowski holds a key role in funding for the cultural endowments. The Senator spoke passionately about the need for sustained funding for the NEA and NEH, and for investing in our “cultural infrastructure.”

A group photo of five people with Nancy Pelosi at the center. Left to right: a white man with short white hair and a black suit, a medium tall black woman with short black hair wearing a black dress and a necklace, Nancy Pelosi who is a white woman with light brown straight hair a white suit blue shirt, pearls, and a blue and purple rectangle patterned scarf. On her right a person with shoulder length greying dark hair and glasses, a striped scarf and a dark grey jacket, and a white man with shaggy brown hair, glasses, red jacket, pink button down, and black tie.

Brad Erickson with Nancy Pelosi, Maria Jenson, Alma Robinson,  and Lanier Sammons in Washington, D.C. March 21, 2017                 

The California advocates met with 18 Congressional offices over the course of the day, including meetings with Leader Pelosi, Congresswoman Eshoo and Congressman Khanna, as well as staff members of Barbara Lee, Jackie Speier, and Zoe Lofgren, all from the Bay Area.

The sense of both Democrats and Republicans alike was that elimination of the NEA and NEH was highly unlikely. At the same time, we urged both sides of the aisle to keep up the advocacy pressure!

Arts and Community Members Assemble at City Hall for San Francisco Arts Advocacy Day

An Arts Advocacy Day graphic on a teal background. The text reads: San Francisco Tuesday, March 21st, 2017. Arts Advocacy Day, 12:00 - 1:30pm @ City Hall: Polk Street Steps. With colorful pictures.

Theatre Bay Area staff joined nearly 400 artists, arts administrators, cultural producers, and cultural ambassadors in a spirited rally to advocate for (1) policy priorities (2) a message of “No Cuts,” and (3) stories about the transformative nature of cultural and creative expression.

a group of artists holding protest signs on the steps of city hall in San Francisco

Theatre Bay Area staff gathers with colleagues from Z Space and Yerba Buena Gardens Festival to rally sustained arts funding.                

Thank you to our colleagues at Arts For a Better Bay Area, Z Space, San Francisco Opera, SFMOMA, Cultural Odyssey, SomArts, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, LINES Ballet, and countless others who showed up to share their support and lend their voice to this important cause.

Next Steps

Share your photos, reflections, and concerns!

Keep the momentum going by helping spread the word about Arts Advocacy on social media! Use #ArtsDaySF and/or #ArtsAdvocacy and tag @TheatreBayArea on Facebook or Twitter. Make sure to follow Theatre Bay Area on social for important updates, action items, and more.