Click Here for the Advocacy Essentials handout

ARTS North Carolina’s primary function is to provide advocacy training, organization, strategy, and events that create a dynamic, united, and powerful grassroots voice for the arts in North Carolina.

North Carolina operates on a Biennium cycle including the “long” session (began January 2015) or the “short” session (begins May 2016). The Legislative Arts Agenda is adopted by Arts North Carolina’s Board of Directors prior to ARTS Day (May 24-25, 2016) and is informed by industry needs, political will, timing, and external circumstances. The Legislative Arts Agenda most typically focuses on grants funding for the North Carolina Arts Council and statewide arts education policy, but most recently policy initiatives related to nonprofit taxes and exemptions have become a critical issue.


Nice to Essential

The goal of advocacy is to change an elected official’s perception of the arts from “nice” to “essential”. Nice is expendable. Essential gets support, no matter the economic circumstances. Advocacy is necessary for the arts to thrive and is a core responsibility of arts supporters.

Lobbying is attempting to influence specific legislation related to budget or policy. Lobbying cannot happen without advocacy. Even nonprofit arts organizations can lobby. The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies states, “The federal tax law defines lobbying specifically and narrowly as a communication with a legislator in reference to a specific piece of legislation with a request to support or oppose that legislation.” NASSA information further explains that charities have been allowed to spend no more than 5% of total expenditures on lobbying. However, if the non-profit organization files a 501(h) provision with the IRS they are allowed expenditures of up to 20% of their annual budget for their lobbying activities. If you are still uncertain, visit Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest website at



Election PortalPeople who care about issues should get involved in every election. Know who is running for office, set a meeting, write a letter, deliver a message about arts funding and policy, volunteer for the candidate, make a contribution, attend community forums and ask for candidate views on public support for the arts. More information is on our Election Portal page.

After the election, write a letter of introduction and congratulations, send invitations to arts events, know their supporters, send regular communications that detail arts impact in their district.

The Message should include both data and narrative (story) and if possible, be specific to their district. Most arts advocacy messages center around economic impact, recruitment and retention of skilled workers and businesses, revitalized communities, education, and cultural tourism. Know your official’s key issues and tailor your message.


Take Action

Take Action and get involved with Arts North Carolina for “advocacy made easy”. We will provide a unified agenda, research, talking points, strategies, and target contact information on all state issues related to the arts. Sign up for our E-mail list

If your community would like to sponsor an Advocacy Training workshop, contact Arts North Carolina at 919-834-1411.

Want the Advanced Course? Check out these 40 Advocacy Action Strategies from National Assembly of State Arts Agencies: