Advocacy in Arts Education

What do we want? Arts Education! When do we want it? Now!

This seems like the mantra every new school year, every budget season, and perennially from youth across our communities. They love art. They love the paint, the sticky glue on their fingers, the seasonal pumpkin sketches, and the field trips to performances and exhibitions. They love using scissors and cutting hearts out of red construction paper, school assemblies, showcasing their ceramics and photography in the halls, learning current media techniques, and most of all, they love the joy of being creative together.

Advocating for arts and culture in our community and schools is a full-time job. We hope that one day it will just be the norm. People will simply understand the value of arts and culture in our community, in our schools. We will not have to advocate for funding and sustaining a vibrant arts education program in our PK-12 schools, but will be thinking instead about all the new courses, and the arts educators we need to hire because the demand for art is so vast and the classes are too full. Imagine.

Yet, arts and culture are in demand now. Arts save lives. We know that because teachers, community members, students, policy makers, data reports and analysis, and arts organizations remind us repeatedly. It is through arts in our schools that an atmosphere of communication and tolerance, a mapping of emotions through creation, enable students to connect to the greater world. There they can express their creative selves, find their voice, and to see the connectedness of the human spirit. In community, we do the same.

Can you recall the world without music, movies, gatherings and performances while we were in lockdown during the global Covid-19 pandemic? The arts enable us to survive through some of our darkest times as a community, and the arts continue to uplift and support us as we struggle not just to survive, but to thrive in our new world.

We ask you to join us as an advocate for arts education in our schools and in our community. Lend your voice to the chorus, and share your experiences and joy with others. Tell your story of how the arts saved you. Nurtured you. Tell your family members to support candidates and board members that want sustained funding in arts education in our community. Support arts councils that advocate for arts and culture in your community. Support arts organizations by volunteering, attending performances, and sponsoring school trips through donations. Whatever you do, be that advocate and voice for arts and culture in our community and schools. Be loud.

Please join us at www.racc.org/arts-education to learn more.  Tag us on Instagram when you share your stories.

-Chanda Evans, Arts Education Manager

Join RACC on Advocacy Day-Wednesday, April 19, 2023!

Picture of a brightly colored bus with images from across the state of OregonJoin RACC, arts and cultural leaders, and supporters from across Oregon to unite our voices, align our priorities, and remind our elected officials that the pandemic-related hardships felt throughout our creative sector are not going away anytime soon. When it comes to policy, we believe we are most effective when we are unified. We are strongest when we work together. You are an important part of this work to ensure that arts and culture continue to thrive in Oregon.

Register now 

We know you are doing an incredible amount of work to keep your organizations afloat. Your time at a premium. It can be bewildering to navigate the internal workings of Salem.

NOW is the time to schedule meetings (generally 15 minutes long) with your local legislators for the afternoon of Advocacy Day on Wednesday, April 19!

This year’s legislative priorities include HB 2459, HB 2498, HB 3532, CACO’s CREF capital projects, and an increase in the Oregon Arts Commission’s grant budget.

Advocacy Day is a hybrid event again this year.

  • Our morning session will be held via Zoom, featuring more in-depth information and advocacy training to prepare you to meet with legislators in the afternoon.
  • Several CACO members will be present in Salem for in-person meetings in the afternoon, but because of renovations at the Capitol, we are unable to invite our full membership to gather there in person.
  • Please plan to attend Advocacy Day as best fits your needs and schedule – either meeting with your elected officials in person or virtually in the afternoon on Wednesday, April 19, following your attendance at our virtual morning session.

Most legislators are doing the bulk of their meeting scheduling via email, regardless of meeting virtually or in person. NOW is the time to get these meetings on the calendar for Wednesday, April 19. Here is a helpful email template:

[Greeting Rep. /Sen.]

I hope [Friday] finds you well. I serve as the [insert title and organization and mention if you are in their district]. We [include information about your organization, who you serve, etc.]. I will be participating in the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon’s Advocacy Day, and I am reaching out to request a meeting in the afternoon of April 19 to discuss [e.g., your CREF project, priorities for the arts and culture sector before the legislature for consideration this session]. Please let me know if there is a time that will work best for the [Rep. /Sen.] on Wednesday, April 19. Thank you!

In the meantime, here is a quick preview of our legislative session priorities.

For more information on how RACC is involved please, reach out to Mario Mesquita, Manager of Advocacy and Engagement.

(information provided by the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon)

The Regional Arts & Culture Council Supports Maintaining Current Arts Education Funding Levels & Encourages School Districts to Join Us in Our Support of Arts Education for All


Portland, OR –


As our school districts across the state look to their budgets, reorganize, and prioritize in the coming months, we know that teachers’ jobs are in danger once again. When public education loses teachers, we lose educational opportunities for all of our students. This in turn affects our entire region. Arts education funding in particular is once again at risk.

We urge school districts to maintain your support for arts education programs in our K-12 schools. We are not asking for more funding, even though we know this is necessary to ensure equitable access to arts and culture programing in our schools. We ask you to not decrease funding. We know that art engagement provides a skill set that is critical in our creative economy, and also helps us heal, connect, and build relationships. Art has the power to help move us forward out of trauma. We know that having a robust well-rounded education that includes the arts keeps kids in school, exposes us to diverse cultures, teaches empathy and compassion, encourages us to think critically, to be civically engaged, and, most importantly, brings us joy. We know that the arts create a pathway forward, providing hope and giving voice to the community.

We envision an arts education that is rooted in equity, access, and inclusion. A new bipartisan group of 2023 Oregon legislators have formed an Arts and Culture Caucus. Many leaders in arts and culture in Oregon, including the Oregon Arts Commission and the Oregon Cultural Trust, advocate for increased funding for arts education in our schools, and provide grant opportunities to arts organizations that have arts education programming. RACC is such a leader and, through our grant programs, support organizations who include arts education programming. RACC understands the importance of civic engagement and we encourage you to reach out to your elected officials to share with them your concerns.

Please support arts and culture educational programming in your local schools. Join us in supporting arts education for all.



Chanda Evans, Arts Education Program Manager