Arts Education Advocacy

Arts Education Advocacy

Arts Education policy and funding can be incredibly complex to advocate for because education decisions are made by individual schools, local superintendents, City and County governments, local elected school boards, State legislators, the Governor, district and statewide professional administrators, Congress, the entire breadth of the judicial system including the US Supreme Court, the US Department of Education and even the President of the United States. It makes it even more important to know what you want and why, to start small and think big, be patient and persistent, and to find allies in your cause and method in your advocacy. Here are some strategies to help you be most effective in your advocacy:

Principals and Planning

  • Principals have the most direct control over Arts Education at each school. Schedule a meeting with your Principal about how Comprehensive Arts Education is addressed at your school. Find out what your school’s assets and barriers are for implementing effective arts education. Ask how you can help to empower the assets and remove the barriers
  • Planning is essential to making sure you deliver the right message to the right person. Your Principal should be able to help you know which officials can make decisions on which issues as well as what you can do in the school itself.

Alliances and Advocacy

  • Alliances are necessary to bring about change. First, do your research and find organizations (such as Arts NC) that align with your goals. Sign up for emails and join their network. Use them as a resource for information. Also, find others in your own community that share your priorities and enlist them to work with you.
  • Advocacy is speaking up for a cause or idea. Answering calls to action from advocacy organizations is a great way to get started in this work and to join your voice to a network of like-minded individuals to affect policy, practice, and funding.

Communication and Coordination

  • Communication is everything. When you know what you want, why you want it, and who can help you achieve it, then it is time communicate and build relationships. Start by writing a letter or an email to the appropriate official or elected representative about your issue. It is a great way to lay out your position on an issue and the facts that support it. Then you can meet up with the official, or their staff, and have a polite conversation.
  • Coordination with others is the key to success. The more people that deliver the same message to the appropriate individuals, the more effective your advocacy will become. This takes leadership. Lead with your purposeful actions and passionate advocacy.


Who Does What?

School Improvement Team or School Leadership Team
Works with school administration to govern decision-making at the individual school level.
District Arts Education Coordinator
Within the LEA, there may be an Arts Education Coordinator, a designated person who is responsible for the implementation or guidance for arts education programs within the school system. This position may also include other responsibilities and may report to other curricular leadership.
School Administrators
Responsible for the day to day operations of the individual school within the guidance of the LEA and Local Board of Education. Has power to make decisions in hiring faculty.
Hired by the County School Board (LEA), the Superintendent is responsible for providing programmatic and funding recommendations that adhere to local, state, and federal policy.
Local Education Agency – (LEA) – County School Board
Create local policy to implement state and federal policies and lawas as well as set additional policies that govern operations at the local level beyond what is specified in state and federal law. Examples include decisions about which programs to fund, numbers of teachers, teaching loads, additional graduation requirements, and student fees.
County Commissioners
Set budget at local level for the local school system; provides any funding for teachers not covered in state funding formula.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
Serves and leads 115 school districts, 2452 public and charter schools, approximately 95,000 teachers and more than 1.4 million students, providing assistance with implementation of school policies and laws, as directed by the State Board of Education. NCDPI does not have legislative power, but rather works to fulfill the legislative requirements of the North Carolina General Assembly and policy requirements of the State Board of Education.
North Carolina State Board of Education
Creates state level policies for implementation of state and federal law.
North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction
Elected position – heads the NC Department of Public Instruction, serves as Secretary and reports to the State Board of Education, and coordinates implementation of NCDPI work.
Appoints North Carolina State Board of Education; can support specific initiatives in North Carolina General Assembly.
North Carolina General Assembly
Sets state law.
Federal Laws and Policies
Impacts state and local policies and funding – i.e. No Child Left Behind.

The Arts Education section of the Basic Education Plan – Provides a foundation for excellence in Arts Education.

Arts Education Advocacy – Success lies in the ability of the advocate to connect the message of the arts education goal with the needs and priorities of the community.