Advocacy or Apathy
Advocacy may not have the sexiest connotation, but it’s definitely not a dirty word. Apathy, on the other hand, is.
To advocate means to "actively support" a cause, a belief, an idea or policy. It’s requires caring enough about something to take the time and energy to express your support for it. Unfortunately, particularly when it comes to the arts, culture and creativity in Michigan, for too long, the norm has been apathy, not advocacy.
Since 2002, state support for arts and culture grants has gone from 4th in the nation to 51st. Shocking for a state that talks a lot about valuing creativity.
My passion - and the mission of ArtServe Michigan – is to advocate for a Michigan where arts, culture and creativity are valued, nurtured, and supported as essential to not only individual growth, but to the health, well-being and economic prosperity of our communities and the state as a whole.
The recent outpouring of new voices getting involved in this presidential campaign gives me hope that we're undergoing a cultural shift - one from apathy and self-involvement - to a new era of civic engagement and social activism with the youth leading the way.
The potential to make significant social change by harnessing the power of the Internet, social media and networking is unbelievable, but these are only tools. The desire – the fire in the belly - must be there first.
So what can you do?
We need you to help us influence the State FY 2009 budget process currently underway to make sure we reverse the trend of disinvestment and begin increasing the state’s investment in arts, culture and creativity.
We need your help in supporting legislation to increase funding for arts education in public schools, cultural tourism and the recently proposed incentive package to attract film-makers to make movies in Michigan.
You can start by joining us in Lansing on March 19th for Arts & Culture Advocacy Day. This is the single most important statewide gathering of everyone who cares about arts, culture and creativity in Michigan. If you care, be there!
You can also join ArtServe's new Facebook Group: Create MichAgain to share ideas with like-minded folks. And sign up for GRAAND, ArtServe's grass roots advocacy network. You'll get regular updates on the issues and alerts to specific actions you can take like calling and emailing your elected officials, providing written and in-person testimony for public hearings, and providing us with compelling examples of the positive impact of arts, culture and creativity in your community.
I know there are thousands of passionate people and business leaders like me who read Metromode every week and truly want to see their positive vision for this region and the State become a reality. The fact is that it's going to take more than wishful thinking. It will take advocacy.
See you in Lansing on March 19th!