Last week was Museums Advocacy Day and this week is Historic Preservation Advocacy Day, so Congress is getting lots of visits from people who care about our nation’s history and culture.
Museums Advocacy Day has improved each year. The schedule is well organized and the training and materials are thoughtfully assembled to give everyone a clear idea of what might happen during a congressional visit and the priorities for requests (with lots of good background information so you can speak about issues confidently). At the top of the list was a request for “robust funding” for the Office of Museum Services at IMLS, protection of the charitable deduction, and permission for museums to be eligible with schools for federal teacher training funds. Even if you weren’t able to join us, the American Alliance of Museums provides lots of information and ideas for advocacy at home (although the handy “Issues at a Glance” from the Advocate Handbook doesn’t seem to be available online).
IMLS, NEH, NPS, NFS, and NEA talked about their needs but they didn’t seem to be aware Continue reading
Congress was visited by more than 300 leaders in the museum field on Tuesday for the fourth annual Museums Advocacy Day. The day started with welcoming messages and packets of key issues, and then off we went for meetings with our senators and congressmen. The delegation from Maryland was huge with about two dozen people and met with staff for Senator Cardin and Senator Mikulski, who were very open to our requests to support funding for the Office of Museum Programs of the Institute of Museum and Library Services; including museums among the approved partners for schools in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and opposing elimination of the tax deductibility of charitable donations. Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who represents my district, was incredibly generous with his time and came out to talk with us between votes in the House chamber.
Meeting with my senators and congressman to talk about the value of museums was a great experience, although it’s unclear how much can be accomplished in this bitter election year. More eye opening were the hundreds of people who were also wandering the halls to advocate for their cause, so we’ve got lots of competition. If we don’t participate, others will step in and happily take our place.
Museums Advocacy Day is coordinated by the American Association of Museums, and anyone is welcome to participate.