RECAP: TEXAS ARTS ADVOCACY DAY 2017
Brittany Johnson, Advancement Assistant
On Thursday, February 9, 200 Texans converged at the state capitol in Austin to ensure that our legislators understand the importance of the arts across our state. Attendees spent the morning learning how to effectively meet with their representatives and how to discuss five priorities identified for this 85th legislative session. After a full morning of training, a keynote address by senior Topos Partnership fellow, Margy Waller, legislative updates and more, participants had a successful afternoon speaking directly with their legislators and legislative aides.
As a recap, the five priorities for this legislative session are as follows:
- Ensure Texas legislators understand the importance of the arts in sustaining and growing our economy. The arts generate $5.5 billion and contribute $343.7 million in sales tax revenue annually. Texas’ creative sector employs one in 15 (nearly 800,000) Texans. This sector has increased 25.1% over the past 10 years.
- Restore the $5 million appropriation for the Cultural & Fine Arts District Program in Senate and House budgets. Since 2005, 35 cultural districts in 30 Texas cities have been created. They have been proven successful at strengthening community identity, driving tourism, commerce and jobs creation, enhancing property values and more.
- Continue to support the Municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT)’s authorized use of 15% for the arts.
- Urge the legislature to invest in arts education through policy decisions and appropriations. Multiple studies have found that an arts education strongly and positively impacts both academic and personal success. In 2016, nine out of 10 parents supported increased funding for arts in their schools and 89% of parents believe that art and music electives are as important as athletics.
- Keep Texas Open for Business by supporting legislation and public policy that provides for inclusion and equal treatment across all sectors of our state. Discriminatory legislation threatens Texas’ travel and tourism industry, which employs 700,000 people and contributes $33.5 billion to Texas’ GDP, impacts our ability to recruit and retain creative talent and would lead to a direct reduction in Hotel Occupancy Tax, which would in turn have a negative impact on arts funding.
While Arts Advocacy Day is a special opportunity, it is important to remember that advocacy is about more than just one day. Incorporating simple acts of engagement are vital to ensuring that our state’s decision makers are aware of the important work being done in our communities, and of why public investment of resources is critical.
Below are several small but important post-Advocacy Day tasks:
- Read this article from the Dallas Morning News, written by Gary Gibbs, executive director of the Texas Commission on the Arts, Ann Graham, executive director for Texans for the Arts and Jennifer Ransom Rice, executive director of the Texas Cultural Trust.
- If you attended a meeting with a state legislator or aide, please remember to send a thank you note.
- Create an account on TLO (Texas Legislature Online) and set up alerts for the Bills/Committees you find interesting. Start with the Senate Finance Committee, then the House Appropriations. Committee. Remember, the Texas Commission on the Arts is in Article One of the state budget).
- Like Texans for the Arts on Facebook and/or follow @TexasfortheArts on Twitter to keep up with other efforts to advance the development of arts, culture and the creative industries across the state.