As you take some time this summer to reflect on your school year, do you find that your arts program was overlooked or underappreciated? So many times, we come up with these wonderful project ideas that truly showcase student creativity, only to have them forgotten or taken for granted. It doesn’t matter how excellent your arts program is in your school: if people don’t know about it, your students can’t get the recognition that they deserve. That old saying of “if you build it, they will come” is not the way the world works anymore. There’s simply too many other items that are vying for our attention. That’s why you need an Arts Advocacy Plan!
Arts Advocacy doesn’t seem like an exciting topic; most arts teachers leave this on their to-do list to gather dust while the rest of the more pressing issues get handled throughout the year. But if we don’t showcase the amazing opportunities that are taking place in our classrooms everyday, we will simply blend into the background. Think of advocacy as the unique “brand” of your program. Apple doesn’t save branding for last on their list of priorities; it takes top honors. So should advocacy for your arts program. Here are 5 reasons you need an arts advocacy plan for this upcoming school year:
You Eat a Whale One Bite at a Time
Our arts programs encompass so many smaller details, projects and performances. It can seem overwhelming to advocate for everything you do all at the same time. By creating a plan, you’re providing yourself with a list of manageable action items that you can do each month without feeling burdened by the process.
Take Control of What You Highlight
So often, what gets highlighted about our programs is whatever lands into the school newsletter, calendar of events, or even a newspaper article (for better or for worse). By creating an advocacy plan, you can be proactive in what message you put out there for the world to see. In addition to, spotlighting special events throughout the year.
Social Media is your Friend
By building in social media as a way to communicate and build relationships with the surrounding community, you can funnel the resources and positive energy for your program through multiple venues. A class blog, gallery highlight through Artsonia, Twitter, or Edmodo/Facebook account can each build your brand, act as communication tools, and showcase your class work. There’s no need to wait! Marketing/advocating is all about building relationships and it’s never been easier than with Social Media.
Building Parent Support
Parents can be some of the best advocates for any arts program. They are the ones, after all, who pay for the schools in your district through taxes. If you can embed ideas into your advocacy plan that include parent volunteers and parent showcase days, you can begin to leverage this critical group to help support your efforts.
It’s All About Intention
Finally, an Arts Advocacy Plan helps you to refine what you want to showcase, your vision for your program within the school, and how you plan to achieve it. We can’t afford to just throw up some posters, send home a letter and expect to truly highlight our work. Instead, an Advocacy Plan helps us to organize these pieces intentionally so that each new piece or tool builds on the next. By the end of the year, you will have a comprehensive approach developed to help spread the word on all of the outstanding work done in your classroom.
Want to see what a sample advocacy plan looks like? Today’s free Friday resource provides you with a model plan to help you get started. Happy Friday!
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.