Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

DC Election Hangover: Arts Edition

As a DC inhabitant for the last 9 years (still Indiana resident because my vote matters there), I feel like I should introduce my new home to everyone who just moved here. As a federal employee, there are some things we are used to that many are not. Depending on whom you work for, you could be up for re-election this year. What that means is that you could receive your pink slip tonight from your boss’s constituents. It is not an easy life. And every election results in a crazy sprint to staff the newest member of your party’s office if you want to work on the Hill still or finally deciding maybe I should leave the Hill finally.

For the employees of the rest of the federal government, our fate is up every four years. With each new president comes appointments and starting the security process. Then once someone gets through, they then need to appoint their team. In some cases, people are just getting their ideal teams assembled by the time its election season again. Election season is about more than just the person representing you. It is also about the government at large. Barry’s Blog said it best today when it reminded us to vote and think about our arts nonprofits like the NEH and NEA and their fate.

He makes a great step by step guide to how to advocate for the arts to your new representative, be it Congress, governor or even local election. The best part is that at the end after he has reminded you of the turmoil of elections and the results they have, he makes an excellent and timely plug for a gift to arts advocacy organizations. He has captured our attention, appealed to our emotions, and related to us and now we want to do what we can to help.

I end by asking you to remember something. Tomorrow, that person on the metro next you might have been fired last night. It isn’t an easy morning for DC feds. Give everyone a smile. By January, they could be working for a lobbyist and you want them on the arts’ side.

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4 comments on “DC Election Hangover: Arts Edition

  1. zeniasimpson
    November 5, 2014

    This is such a great post because even though I’ve live din DC previously, I never thought about the job turnovers in government after elections. Also, it’s interesting to note how new relationships have to be formed in advocacy once there are new representatives in office. From watching House of Cards, it’s easy to assume that Frank Underwood will be in office forever and all you have to do is find that political genie and ride the wave, but it doesn’t work that way. Thank you for this post, and I’ll be sure to be extra-friendly during my two hour or so cumulative commute today.

  2. dianalfreeberg
    November 5, 2014

    I think your last paragraph should be on a billboard somewhere. The truth is that the world is really small, particularly the arts world. You can’t burn bridges here because who knows when you’ll get to a time when that’s the only bridge available.

    In DC, I think it’s extremely important. Not only because this town is so incredibly small, but because there are so few smiling faces here on a normal day. I think people would be shocked at the smiles they would get in return. Pay it forward, peeps.

  3. hshambroom
    November 5, 2014

    Thanks for this article. I think this is also an interesting reminder of how slow governments and their employees come together, and how that in turn affects how slowly things change. I think we often feel frustration at perceived failure to change or implement new policies, especially within the arts, but as the blog points out, America is sort of in a never ending election cycle. When you consider all of these things it is easy to understand how and why it becomes frustrating. The author’s insistence on the importance of the arts and arts organizations is clearly felt amongst many people who work in the industry. I was glad to see he laid out a few simple acts we can all do to make our voices heard. In a world where there is war and disease to deal with, the arts and funding for them often get overlooked, but, as the author points out, artists can help make sense of all of this.

  4. alexgilbertschrag
    November 7, 2014

    Although I now live in, DC I have done almost everything in my power to stay out of the middle of politics. Part of that is from going to school with many other undergraduates who are seemingly ALL political science majors. It makes you, an arts major, feel like you don’t actually know what’s going on, and therefore should stay out of the middle of it.

    But maybe that’s exactly the problem.

    I’m not sure how many arts organizations are savvy in regards to politics. I think this article makes a great point about us needing to lobby our representatives with arts. It seems like such a simple idea, but why hasn’t anyone done this before? Giving them great seats to a production, showing them all the people we employ, give jobs to, and letting them see an end production. How can they justify supporting something that they know nothing about? If you get them invested, maybe they will fight harder to keep funding for the arts.

    Instead of seeing the swing of the house the “end all” for arts, I think this article brings up a good point about how no matter who has the house, senate, or the presidency, we should be trying to incorporate them all.

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