|After the Election: What You Can Do Now|
Only a week remains until Election Day 2012! Like many of you, I am filled with a range of emotions including apprehension, curiosity and mainly relief. This has been without question one of the longest—and nastiest—campaign seasons in recent years.
The good news, however, is that it will all be over soon and Washington can return to the work of governing. NASAA is planning a web seminar on November 8 (see Announcements & Resources in this issue) to discuss the election and what the returns will mean for the arts.
As you look ahead to 2013, I urge you to think proactively about what you can and should be doing to put your state in the best possible position to effectively advocate in Washington next year, regardless of the election's outcome. Below are some steps you should take in advance of the new Congress beginning in January.
Prepare a State of the Arts Document to Share with Your Representatives
The beginning of a new Congress is a great opportunity to prepare background information on what your state is doing with regard to the arts. Whether you are meeting members for the first time, congressional staff has turned over or you are updating information you have shared previously, the beginning of a new term is always a good time to engage your members of Congress.
Your "state of the arts" document should be no longer than two pages, preferably one, and should include sharp, concise points that outline the important contributions the arts are making in your state. Regardless of who wins the election this month, we know that the arts, like many discretionary programs, will be vulnerable to serious reductions in funding, so take this opportunity to think proactively about how we want to shape the debate.
Learn about New Changes to Your Congressional Delegation
While 2012 is not expected to provide the sweeping changes in Congress we saw in 2010 (when more than 100 incumbents in the House either retired or lost reelection), due in large part to redistricting, it is quite possible that there will be new faces in your delegations. Please take some time to learn about these members and their platforms.
A great resource to use is the nonpartisan website www.votesmart.org. This website compiles data based upon candidates' responses to issue-specific questionnaires and, when available, their votes on particular issues, including the arts. Having a sense of your new members' positions will help us think strategically about how best to advocate before these new members.
Unlike in previous presidential elections, where there was a lull between the election and the new year, pressing issues will necessitate work resuming in Congress as soon as the election ends. To discuss the election in greater detail, please feel free to contact me at 202-939-7906, and I urge you to join us for the postelection web seminar on Thursday, November 8.