How to be an Arts Advocate
I’m an intern at Arts Council Napa Valley (ACNV). I’ve only been here a few months, but ever since my first day, the concept of arts advocacy has always been placed front and center. Before coming here, I had never even heard of arts advocacy. I never thought about community members arguing over whether Lawrence Argent’s Bunny Foo Foo sculpture at Hall Winery is tasteful or not; I just figured, “He’s an artist. He can do that, right?”. Since starting my internship at ACNV, I’ve learned that a lot of the reason why artists can do what they do is because of the help of arts advocates. I learned that artists don’t usually have free creative reign over their public work, and that most of their work wouldn’t even be public without the successful rallying of arts advocates. Arts advocates have made large-scale projects, like the Vine Trail installations, possible, as well as smaller-scale events like murals and benches downtown. Arts advocates don’t necessarily have to make the art, they just have to be supportive, passionate, and encouraging of the art. Keep reading to find out ways you can become an arts advocate in Napa County.
Join arts committees
There are plenty of arts committees in the valley, and all of them need the help of passionate locals in order for them to thrive. The purpose of many of these committees is to provide guidance to local government and other community agencies, as well as to recommend how funds are used and drive policy-making. Some committees also provide grants for artists and art organizations, or help them to seek grants independently. The great thing about arts committees is that they’re not solely made up of Type A personalities (although of course those can be very helpful). Many different perspectives are welcomed, and celebrated, on an arts committee. For a full list of local arts committees searching for new members, check here.
Arts events aren’t just for artists—anyone can get involved in helping events run smoothly and efficiently. Not only is volunteering a fun way to support local artists, it also gives you a behind the scenes glimpse of each event and allows you to interact with fellow community members you may not have met otherwise. Volunteering opportunities can be found anywhere from a school art show, to a street festival, to a small art showing. However, volunteering is never just limited to events; locations such as di Rosa Art, Napa Valley Museum, Lincoln Theater, and Calistoga Art Center are open to volunteers year-round. If you’re interested in volunteering, go here.
Educate state and city officials
One of the issues that many artists and art organizations face is not having their work considered a top priority by city officials and/or state legislators. Advocates can help ease this gap by educating officials on what the artists are doing, and how arts can help the local community. Results are most important to show to government officials. Invite them to local art showings, and present data showing the positive effects the arts have had on the community, whether through rises in employment, or maybe through increased tourism revenue. Show how arts have helped local schools by inviting officials to a middle school theater production, or a high school art showing. You can also write state officials thanking them for arts programs they have funded, or informing them why you care about your community having access to arts spaces, support, and education. Again, showing positive results from the arts will have a huge impact on city and state officials, and will encourage more support for local artists and art organizations.
Donate and Fundraise
These methods might seem obvious, but they make a huge impact. Donating and fundraising money for Arts Council Napa Valley (ACNV) helps sustain arts programs and makes more vibrant and interesting local art events possible. See how ACNV is making a difference in the arts in Napa Valley. If you are interested in making a contribution to ACNV’s efforts, whether through donations or fundraising, please click here.
Hopefully these strategies will inspire you to to be an active arts advocate in Napa County. Remember, anyone can be an arts advocate, and there's no one way of doing so! Find the methods that work best for you, and use them to support your local artists.