Advocacy Alert: Nov. 10, 2010

Post-Election Advocacy for Museums

Elections Call for Continued Advocacy for Museums!

Last week's election brought many changes to all levels of government, but one thing is clear—museums must continue building relationships with all of our elected officials.
"We cannot assume that newly elected officials will know how essential museums are," said AAM President Ford W. Bell. "They will be faced with many pressing issues, and we must make our case to ensure that museums are not overlooked."
With the shift from Democratic to Republican control of the House of Representatives and more than 100 new members of Congress taking office in January, this post-election period is a time of critical information gathering for advocates around the country.

Bell also emphasized the importance of advocating to elected officials at all levels of government. "The current crop of incoming U.S. Senators includes a former state representative, a county councilman, a governor, four U.S. Representatives and a county executive. Future senators and governors will also come from the current pool of local elected officials, so we need to make our case to all elected officials."

What can you do now that the midterm elections are over?

Congratulate your elected officials (both new and returning).
Whether you agree with their politics or not, it is a good idea to begin building relationships with everyone who will be representing you. It will be easier to go back to them for help later if you have already established a relationship. To get started, you can simply write a letter of congratulations.
How can you identify new and returning elected officials?
Once new members of Congress and state legislators are sworn in, they will appear in the legislator look-up on. Until then, your zip-code search  will continue to match you to your current members of Congress and state legislators.

Think about your own connections.
Now is a great time to think about connections you may already have to both new and returning elected officials. Use our Legislator Profile Form to help identify relationships they may have with your museum's staff or trustees.

Be a resource.
Whether new or returning, your legislators need to be up-to-speed on the issues facing their state or district. Do any of your programs or exhibits relate to specific issues on the legislator's agenda (assisting the elderly and veterans, increasing literacy, or the environment for example)? Consider sharing your museum's economic impact statement  with your legislators, or inviting them to visit your museum .

Learn about the issues.
An informed advocate is an effective advocate!  Learn more about the federal issues affecting museums and get facts  you can use to make the case for museums.
Come to Museums Advocacy Day!
Getting involved in advocacy, especially with new legislators and a new session of Congress, can be intimidating. Museums Advocacy Day 2011 is your chance to join with museum professionals and advocates from your state to learn about issues affecting museums, hear from experts about what to expect in the 112th Congress, and visit your federal legislators' offices on Capitol Hill (scheduled by AAM).