Every April, for the past six years, I have enjoyed traveling to Washington D.C. to participate in the national arts advocacy day convening, where I had the opportunity to meet with elected officials who represent California and Bay Area districts in our nation’s capital. These meetings take place with dedicated arts staffers who report back to the likes of Senator Boxer and Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi—one of the most influential women in the nation. This annual gathering is organized by Americans for the Arts and supported by Dance/USA and boasts an attendance of over 500 each year. Artists, administrators and even arts patrons walk the halls up on the “Hill,” as Senate and Congressional buildings in D.C, are referred to. It has been a fantastic experience and a welcomed opportunity for me to speak to our elected officials about what makes the dance community in the Bay Area so vibrant and robust. Along with personal anecdotes about what is happening in dance here, the meetings also focus on advocating for the National Endowment for the Arts and discussing other vital topics that impact the whole arts field, most often including legislation around charitable giving, visas for artists, and arts education.
While I absolutely recommend that anyone take advantage of this national gathering to advocate for what they are doing; this year as the representative of Dancers’ Group I am shaking things up a bit and not attending. Dancers’ Group is instead organizing a local Dance Advocacy Day gathering that will take place on the same day as the one in D.C., Tuesday, April 9.
Mirroring what takes place in the capital, Dancers’ Group has been reaching out to members of the community to join us in showing the breath and health of the arts with a spotlight on dance. We have made appointments in the local office of our Senators and Congressional representatives and will be adding in meetings with officials in our State government. If you are interested in joining a group of passionate dance people to advocate for national conversations on arts funding, and share information about you and your work, please contact Dancers’ Group to learn how to participate in our first annual Dance Advocacy Day in San Francisco.
Brandon Gryde, Dance/USA’s director of government affairs, has contributed an article in this month’s issue that details the importance and benefits of being an advocate for continued resources for the arts on the federal level.
And, whether in D.C. or your own hometown, in April, or anytime of the year, I encourage you to find time to speak with your elected officials so that they are aware of the important work you do that adds to the rich tapestry of the arts community.
April is also the month for the return of the perennially popular Bay Area Dance Week festival. This year marks the 15th anniversary of our community opening their doors to new attendees—and dance fans too— so that they can try out, for free, a class, performance, lecture/demonstration, workshop, or other creative endeavor during this celebration of all things dance.
Open this issue to learn about a new prize that honors the work and life of Della Davidson, and read a phenomenal piece by Sarah Crowell, the recipient of the 2013 Dancers Choice Award, that speaks to the transformative power of dance; something I am sure that all have felt whether a dance maker or audience member, or both, and being reminded of this inspirational sway will put a smile on your face.
This is the perfect segue to remember that when we show up and tell our truth, it creates opportunity for powerful change.
Join me in showing up this month and beyond.
—Wayne Hazzard, Executive Director