You have the right and the responsibility to participate in the legislative process. MCA is dedicated to empowering arts supporters throughout Minnesota to become advocates for arts-friendly policy.
Arts Advocacy for Organizations
Your organization has the right (and the responsibility) to participate in the legislative process. And while MCA is a highly effective statewide arts advocacy network working on behalf of your organization, it is important for arts organizations to remain informed and involved.
Below are legal regulations for organizational advocacy and tips on how to inform and involve the staff, board and volunteers of your organization.
Make Sure Your Organization is a Member of MCA
As a member, your organization benefits from timely legislative updates and collective action on arts-related state and federal legislation.
Sign up to receive our arts alerts emails to receive up-to-the-minute news on legislation and new arts research, and forward them to your coworkers. To maximize your organizaton’s membership, be sure to:
- Schedule an Advocacy 101 workshop to be held at your organization for its staff and board.
- Organize your coworkers to attend MCA’s Arts Advocacy Day event at the capitol – it is a great way to bond as a staff while working towards an important goal, network with your peers from organizations statewide, and have fun!
- Have MCA provide your staff and board with personalized legislative and congressional contact sheets so that everyone can have their elected officials’ information at their fingertips.
Legal Regulations for Organizational Advocacy
Educate elected officials on issues of concern in the arts community, arrange meetings with them to learn their views on the arts, invite them to organizational meetings and events, and send them literature on arts issues.
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, your organization cannot: Endorse or oppose candidates for public office, collect or distribute funds for political campaigns, use your facilities for political fundraising (although you can rent out your facility to candidates at the market rate), or engage in legislative activities past a “substantial limit” (the IRS has a lobbying limit for organizations; call MCA for more information).
Calendar for Organizational Advocacy
There is always a way to advocate on behalf of the arts, no matter what the season. Communication with elected officials is most effective when it is ongoing, rather than simply during a crisis.
Take the time to get to know the people who represent you and tell them who you are and why you care about the arts. You do not need to know about specific legislation to talk about why the government should support the arts. You just need to let your elected officials know that you think the government has an important role to play concerning arts funding. Here are some year-round arts advocacy initiatives for organizations:
- Join MCA or renew your organization’s membership.
- Put your legislators on your organization’s mailing list.
- When your organization receives a grant from the State Arts Board or a Regional Arts Council, write a thank you note to your legislators and to the governor.
- When you are turned down for a grant due to lack of funds, write to your legislators and the governor asking for increased support for the arts.
- Be kind, not confrontational. Make friends.
- Appoint a board member to become an Advocacy Liason to MCA. This person can report to your board on federal, state and local political activity affecting the arts.
- Invite your legislators for a tour of your facility and educate them about what you do and how your community benefits.
- Invite your legislators to openings and community celebrations and ask them to make a short speech about the importance of the arts to your community. Take pictures of legislators at these events and send them to your local paper.
- Invite your legislators to speak with your board of directors about the arts.
- Make sure that MCA is updated with your current board and staff lists so that we can identify arts supporters in every legislative district.
- Attend MCA’s Arts Advocacy Day event at the capitol (in February/March).