The Arizona Arts Congress was February 5th at the State Capitol in Phoenix, and I spent part of the day learning the ways of lobbying for the arts with our local representative J.D. Mesnard of Chandler. Rep. Mesnard is a conservative who isn’t sure the government should be involved with funding arts when they could be controversial or anti-government; my group of creatives were managers of performing arts- jazz, classical and stage- with myself as the sole visual artist, so the case that arts = t+a+scat was pretty easily dismissed.
The goal of the group was to encourage our representative to support arts funding through interest on the AZ state “Rainy Day” Fund. Last year the AZ Arts Commission received $1,000,000 of this bank interest, and the return on this investment was $1,500,000, proof that moving money around in the arts is not a loss leader.
This lobbying effort was over an informal outdoor luncheon and it’s an interesting peek into how capital A Arts and government function. Governments on local, state and federal level are responsible for paying grants, educational programs, and license creative businesses. Creative ventures are big business and lead to inventions, beautifying infrastructure with public art and sculpture, and culture generally makes life better. Government funding is no joke.
Lobbying isn’t inherently sinister, it’s the way government works. Representatives and senators have to be convinced one way or another on issues by people who have vested interest in those issues and have as few as 30 seconds in an elevator to make their case.