2nd Annual Arts Advocacy Day in Franklin a Success

Marjorie Turner Hollman
State Reps., L-R Jeff Roy, Carolyn Dykema, and Brian Murray were among those passionate about advocating for the arts who attended last month’s 2nd annual Action and Impact, Community Arts Advocacy Day at the Franklin Senior Center. The event was supported by the Franklin and Norfolk Cultural Councils.
Issue Date: 
May, 2018
Article Body: 

Franklin’s Senior Center was filled with people from around the state on April 7 who were all passionate about the arts, and interested in gaining tools to help gain tools to help them advocate on the local, state and federal levels. The chair of Franklin’s Cultural Council, Stacey David, opened the 2nd annual Action and Impact, Community Arts Advocacy Day with a rousing keynote address. The event was supported by grants from the Franklin and Norfolk Cultural Councils. David noted that last year’s conference was offered with an eye on Washington and the attacks on federal funding that have occurred, threats of huge cuts in arts funding. “It’s time for advocacy,” David stated.
Norfolk’s Cultural Council created a “photo booth” of sorts to help participants express their support for the arts in its various forms. Throughout the day participants took a few moments to vamp for the camera, then posted pictured on social media using the hashtag, #CAAD18
David urged participants to take advantage of ArtWeek, a statewide effort to promote local arts oriented events, which is continuing into May. “Franklin has fifty-one unique events slated for ArtWeek,” David noted—fully 10% of the statewide offering in this project.
She called the arts a light to battle the darkness, a beacon of hope. “Instead of STEM (Science, technology, Engineering and Math) classes,” David urged, “Work to advocate for STEAM classes.” She stressed the importance of the arts in helping give purpose to life.
Area legislators were invited to the conference, and State Rep. Jeff Roy spent the entire day, offering a keynote address, leading a workshop, and then listening to what people had to share. Area representatives Carolyn Dykma and Brian Murray joined the gathering during the lunch hour and went from table to table speaking with those who were at the conference.
The Norfolk Arts Council created advocacy postcards to mail to various legislators. Participants were urged to sign the cards, which were slated to be delivered after the conference. Artwork for the cards was created by Norfolk Cultural Council Co-chair Charity Stolarz.
Jeff Roy’s address was titled, “Why Advocate?” He invited the group to visit the Franklin Library to see the display of historical books donated by Benjamin Franklin. He quoted poet, Oliver Wendall Holmes, father of the supreme court justice of the same name, who said, “Most people go to their graves with their music still inside them.” Roy has a special passion for music, being a musician himself, a guitarist in a classic rock band. Roy noted that the intersection between arts and technology is a powerful force that brings important economic returns to the state. “73,000 full time jobs in Massachusetts are arts related,” he noted. Roy ended his talk with a picture he had taken just days before at the top of the grand staircase in the state capital building. “At the bottom of the stairs was an orchestra playing for those who were in the building. We need to act more like musicians in an orchestra,” he observed. “They all must work together to create something beautiful.”
Emily Ruddock, program advocate for Mass-Creative.org, spoke about being a lobbyist for the arts. She shared her story, including her realization that although she loved the theater, she hated acting, but loved producing programs. She discovered the power of sharing stories, and went back to school to become an arts advocate. She explained how she had challenged candidates in the Boston mayoral election about what they would do to help the arts play a bigger role in Boston. Mayoral candidate, now Mayor Marty Walsh, promised to create a cabinet level post for the arts, and once Walsh had made this promise, every other candidate in turn also promised to do the same if elected. Ruddock noted, “We were able to change the conversation with our advocacy and turn politicians from being arts appreciators into arts advocates.”
The rest of the day was spent in various workshops with titles like, “How to attract and keep volunteers,” “Shoestring marketing,” “Building community partnerships,” and “Social media basics.” During lunch, table topics such as, “How can we increase participation of young people in the arts?” were discussed, and area representatives visited with conference attendees.
A panel discussion with speakers from Worcester, Boston, Metrowest Visitor’s Bureau, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Mass College of Art rounded out the event. Participants wanted to know how to drive engagement with little budget and a number of other issues.
Kudos to the Franklin Cultural Council for a well-organized event, and to the Norfolk Cultural Council for their support, both monetary, but also in providing hands-on resources for participants to get engaged, and take steps to advocate for the arts in simple. yet effective ways, whether through social media or that old fashioned method—mailing postcards to legislators.
Here’s to a conference well done, and to expectations that next year’s conference will be even bigger and better.
To get on the mailing list for next year’s conference, email: [email protected].