By Oklahoma Arts Day Committee Member Angela Williams, Paoli, OK

Oklahoma Arts Day at the Capitol is honestly one of my favorite events of the year. However, the planning, executing and networking to champion the Arts in Oklahoma can be exhilarating and exhausting.

It would be easy to check that off our list and proceed with the demands and routines of life. On the contrary, now the work begins or continues. 

Our champions yesterday all had varying degrees of familiarity with their legislators. Hopefully, you got face time with them, sometimes it was short but sweet, sometimes it was a quick handshake or hugs to deliver the packet of OFTA information & some just had a nice interaction with the Legislative Assistant. I say well done, seeing a familiar, friendly face of a constituent is often the highlight of their crazy week.

Today the work begins. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up is key to keeping our message on their radar.

  • I usually feel like I owe them a Thank You. Yesterday I admittedly had a bit of guilt for taking 20 minutes of a legislator’s time while he was trying to get through a menacing 247-page document on the proposed rules to a looming bill. In my defense, he kept saying please come in, please sit down… Time is a precious commodity.
  • I’m generally a “tell them what time it is, not how to build the clock” type of advocate. OFTA has made this possible with the wonderful resource packets that we distribute. Even though I told them to look at the material, don’t assume they have found the time yet in their chaotic schedule. An email is such an easy tool to reference the OFTA letter on the concerns with consolidation, arts education and the benefits of the arts in Oklahoma and their district.
  • Occasionally, you need to provide them additional information. I have been asked a question I couldn’t answer. Admitting such, I promised to see what I could find out and let them know. They respect that but make darn sure to keep them informed. Even if it’s just saying, I haven’t got that information yet but have requested it from the appropriate party, etc.
  • Utilize the social media buzz. There are some great photos surfacing from yesterday. Keep using the #okartsday and tag those legislators.
  • If your arts organization or business has rack cards, brochures, etc. be sure and deliver or mail copies to their office. I observed a LA bring in an arm load of materials from the rotunda about things she wanted to do with her grandson this summer. The legislator was looking over her shoulder and pulled out several brochures to investigate further.  It does make a difference.

Yesterday was a record setting attendance day but I know many arts advocates had obligations that prohibited them from attending.  This still applies to you too even if you didn’t attend.

The resource packets were distributed to all the legislators. So, you can still carry the message and reference those materials.

Several online actions are available too, like this Action Alert and this Arts Education Petition.

Personally, I couldn’t be prouder of the #okartsday. It showcased art as a strong, vibrant enterprise, celebrated the diversity and impact of the arts.

Keep the momentum going; communicate to everyone who will listen and follow-up, follow-up, follow.

One of my favorite Okie-isms is ‘The squeaking wheel, gets the grease’!