I am new to this role as Advocacy Chair for WAEA, but I realize I have done many things already to advocate for my students in art. Make sure to click the link near the end of the article for help with understanding advocacy and find out what you can do to gain support for art programs.
How do you advocate for your students? Do you realize that just informing people in any variety of ways helps to gain support for the arts? Have you tried a website, newsletter, newspaper, radio, postcard, TV, letters, billboard, buttons, calendar, fliers, exhibits, and public speaking? Many will aid in making sure the art program stays visible in your school and community.
If you are doing a special event at your school, don’t forget that radio and TV might be looking to do coverage of this type. They might provide journalists and crew to cover it. Our local newspaper is always looking for information to make their newspaper interesting. I submit articles (often with pictures) after/before art events to highlight what went on and to educate the public about the event and give the students public recognition. Sometimes the newspaper takes the photos and I supply the names of students. Tell your administration you want to do this beforehand, so they are involved and can provide other supports you are not aware of. If your school has a PTO (parent/teacher organization), they can help fund art goals with enough advanced planning.
At my school, I make sure the art events are posted on the school calendar as well as on the art department home page. I use fliers in the community to publicize our art shows. Students in the art club are willing to hang these up with permission from the establishment.
When grade level specific art recognition needs to be made or information needs to be put out there for families, I give a short item to the homeroom teacher and ask them to put it in their monthly newsletter.
We have a fine arts banquet each spring that celebrates the efforts of all the arts (students) and gives the faculty a chance to thank parents for their support of their children in their goals. By recognizing people who support the arts in some form, you are subliminally encouraging others to participate in support of the arts.
Our administration likes to share information with the school board about some of the successes in the school system, and I have submitted items to celebrate youth in art. Have you thought about giving postcards or buttons to the school board members or administration? You can encourage them to wear an art advocacy button whenever they attend public art events (or just any time). Many tools for advocacy can be found on the NAEA website. The best place to start may be here: http://www.arteducators.org/advocacy/advocacy-made-simple.
Good luck to you in your school year and keep advocating with a smile. Remember, all students need access to the arts, and some need to thrive in that capacity. You may be the vehicle to help them see their potential and value.