We are preparing for a year that will be filled with challenges to federal support for museums. Museums Advocacy Day—Feb. 27-28—is an ideal time to advocate for museums. We invite the entire museum field to participate.
Here are some reasons to jump-start your advocacy efforts today:
- AAM makes it easy. We will set up your meetings on Capitol Hill, and give you all the tools and talking points you need to make the case for museums.
- Tax reform is reportedly coming soon. Leadership in the House, Senate, and White House have all identified a tax overhaul as a top priority, and one change under consideration has been estimated to reduce charitable giving by $17 billion per year. Your advocacy can affect how the charitable deduction and other giving incentives will fare in these negotiations.
- Build relationships now. Cultivating elected officials is a lot like cultivating donors, where building a trustful relationship is key. Museums Advocacy Day is a great opportunity to build relationships with new members of Congress and their staff, before we ask for their support on specific votes later this year.
- Federal funding for NEA, NEH, and IMLS is severely at risk. The current Speaker of the House has proposed elimination of these agencies repeatedly in previous years, and the conditions in Congress may allow it to happen in 2017.
- Be a Truth-teller. In this “post-truth” world, museums have an opportunity to share knowledge and research and ensure that we understand and retell the stories from our history. Make sure Congress knows the vital role you play in your community.
- Share your economic impact in the community. During this time of extreme budget constraints, advocates need to make the case that museums are economic engines. AAM tools can help.
- Our welcome reception will take place at the National Museum of Women in the Arts which will have a new exhibit “New Ground: The Southwest of Maria Martinez and Laura Gilpin” beginning Feb. 17.
- Networking. Get to know fellow museum professionals from your state and region. Previous attendees note that Museums Advocacy Day is a premier opportunity for networking.
- Numerous deadlines loom. Now is the time to advocate: FY18 budget work began when the new Congress was sworn in on Jan. 3; the president-elect is sworn in on January 20; the current debt ceiling deal expires on March 16; and the FY2017 spending deal runs through April 28; so lots of key decisions will be made in the first half of 2017!
- AAM members register for FREE! Members of partnering organizations also register for FREE!
- Special session for student advocates. Students are a key part of Museums Advocacy Day, and we will hold a special program on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26, to help you maximize your impact as a museum advocate.
- Do you follow the Center for the Future of Museums, TrendsWatch, or Dispatches from the Future? Here’s your chance to meet Elizabeth Merritt, who will be speaking about disruptive events and how to respond to political change.
- Infographic. Museums Advocacy Day is a great excuse to show off our infographic.
- Hear from the Department of Education on how best to engage and what’s coming up at the agency.
- Build your public speaking skills, like Jamila Lewis did!
- Hear directly from Brad Fitch, who leads the Congressional Management Foundation, on why constituents (that’s you!) are the most effective advocates with elected officials.
- Be inspired by Tim Delaney. As president and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, Tim leads the largest network of nonprofits, a powerful coalition of State Associations and more than 25,000 members, to help nonprofits achieve greater collective impact in local communities across the country.
- Learn how to get trustees involved with advocacy using new data from our recent Governance Survey, and insights from experts in the field.
- A networking lunch with advocates from your state is included with your registration.
- Show solidarity with the museum field. We need you now more than ever. (Read our recent advocacy alert on Election Takeaways.)
- Help garner support for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. See how advocates have made a difference in recent years.
- Congressional Honorees Thad Cochran and Carolyn Maloney will be recognized for their leadership in support of museums. Cochran (R-MS) is an original cosponsor of legislation to reauthorize the Institute of Museum and Library Services and was instrumental in helping Mississippi museums recover from Hurricane Katrina; Maloney (D-NY) is being honored for her leadership in advancing a national museum of women’s history and her vocal support for museums as key to spurring travel and tourism.
- Host a Congressional event at your museum, like Karen Witter did!
- Practice your elevator speech. On Capitol Hill, you might actually find yourself in an elevator with your member of Congress, so we’ve set aside time to help participants work on their elevator speech to ensure they are prepared to make the case for museums, both during Museums Advocacy Day and in many other settings.
- We will hold our Congressional Reception at the Capitol Visitor Center, which opened in 2008 and tells the story of Congress and the U.S. Capitol, including rarely seen historic documents from the National Archives and the Library of Congress, artifacts from around the country, and an 11-foot-tall touchable model of the Capitol dome.
- Help new members of Congress stock their office with your brochures and a poster, like Carl Nold did!
- Gain media attention by using the media kits in our Advocate from Anywhere resources.
- Do Something. Whether your candidates won or lost in November, recognize that you have the power to influence the direction of our nation by advocating for what you believe in and making sure your elected representatives in Congress understand the value of museums. Margaret Mead said it best, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” This is your chance.
Want to attend Museums Advocacy Day, but can’t make it Feb. 27-28?
We recommend—and are proud to support—Humanities Advocacy Day March 13-14; National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week March 14-16; and Arts Advocacy Day March 20-21. We work closely with these organizations to ensure that our legislative agendas are aligned, so each subsequent event amplifies our message.