11 Arts Advocacy Questions for 2018 U.S. Mid-Term Election Candidates
As campaigns for the November 2018 mid-term elections ramp up in the coming months, arts advocates across the country will have opportunities to interact with candidates at the local, state, and national levels. It is important for arts advocates to be armed with questions to ask candidates, as well as with information about their past voting records, if already in an elected position. It is critical candidates know that the arts are vital to thriving communities, economies, and individual lives, and that the arts should be taken seriously as a part of their platform, regardless of political party.
In February of this year, President Trump released his 2019 fiscal year budget proposal, which called for the elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), following suit with his 2018 budget proposal. Thankfully, numerous members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike — spoke out against the elimination of the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Not only were the final quarter FY18 budgets for the agencies not eliminated, but thanks to out-spoken arts advocates across the country, they were also given a slight funding increase.
Until more members of Congress and those in the White House realize the full value and necessity of the arts in our country, arts advocates will need to work to elect candidates who champion the arts and ensure that existing members of Congress understand the impact of the arts and vote to invest in them. This election season, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 U.S. Senate Seats will be contested. While out on the campaign trail, here are some questions to ask candidates running for Congress in the 2018 mid-term elections.
- The arts bring communities together and foster understanding of others; In your political career, how have you supported the arts and how would you do this at the national level as a member of Congress?
- President Trump’s past two budget proposals have recommended cutting all funding from the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts). Would you be a protector of the arts in the U.S. by supporting continued funding for the NEA and how would you champion the arts beyond that? Would you consider increasing federal arts funding for the NEA to $1 per American so that nonprofit arts organizations in communities across the country can provide even more accessible arts programs for all Americans? 
- How would you support artists, musicians, and creatives in your campaign to create an economy that works for everyone?
- If elected, would you co-sponsor the CREATE Act, which invests in the country’s creative economy and recognizes artists as small-business people?
- Would you support the Universal Charitable Giving Act (S. 2123/H.R. 3988), to preserve incentives for charitable giving, if elected to Congress?
- The 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) definition includes the arts as part of a well-rounded education, but according to the 2011 report Arts Education in America: What the declines mean for arts participation, Black & Hispanic students have less than half of the access to arts ed as their White peers. How would you address this?
- As a new member of Congress, what committees would you be interested in sitting on, and what legislation would you file in your first term?
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the arts and culture sector represents a $704.2 billion industry in America, which accounts for 4.23 percent of the nation’s annual GDP, and generates a $24 billion trade surplus to the United States. What policies would you pursue to support the dynamic growth of this economic sector? 
- The nation’s arts and culture sector employed 4.7 million wage and salary workers in 2013, earning $339 billion. What specific economic policies would you propose to grow this important segment of the American workforce? 
- The nonprofit arts and culture jobs industry generates $9.5 billion in income tax revenue back to the federal government, but these charitable organizations also rely on critical support from individuals for tax deductible donations in order to operate their public programs. Would you continue to protect tax deductible incentives for individuals to donate to nonprofit arts charities? 
- How have the arts, including creative writing, had an impact on your life personally? 
For more information on how to get involved this election season, check out the resources provided by Americans for the Arts, a nation-wide advocacy and research organization for the arts, and the Arts Action Fund, the 501(c)4 lobbying organization affiliated with Americans for the Arts.
 — Questions are from an Americans for the Arts resource, 10 Questions to Ask Candidates. Information/statistics may be slightly outdated.