Dear APAP Members and Colleagues,
First, I hope this message finds you safe and well.
While the pandemic has temporarily left many of our venues empty, many artists, crew and staff under- or unemployed, and many audiences under-engaged, that doesn't mean that our spaces, our people, and our audiences---that YOU, arts workers---don't have a critical role to play in our communities and a civic duty to fulfill.
Today, we are 53 days out from the 2020 Election in the U.S., and while there is so much happening in the world, we can’t lose sight of the importance of this election for our democracy and for the performing arts---in our neighborhoods, in the U.S., and around the globe.
And yet, the pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge to this election.
Together, as performing arts professionals, we have an opportunity to maximize voter engagement by activating our spaces, organizations and ourselves across the country in service to every eligible citizen’s right to vote.
However, time is running short, so APAP has outlined below three ways the performing arts community can take action.
Your venue can become a polling site. There are communities across the country that lack for places for people to vote. If you have a large, ADA-accessible space that isn't a polling site already, it's possible that it still could become one---if you act quickly. The first step is to contact your County Clerk or County Board of Elections office which you may find here or here or through an internet search. We recommend that you reach out to your state arts advocacy organization and contact workelections.org. You can also find useful guidance on how to serve as a polling site from the American Association of People with Disabilities.
You can become a poll worker. The U.S. is facing a massive shortage of poll workers this year, as poll workers have historically been older individuals at much higher risk of serious illness from the Coronavirus. During the primaries, a shortage of poll workers in many states caused chaos with polling locations being overwhelmed, opening late, or not opening at all. We encourage the young and the healthy in our creative community to apply to be a poll worker. Many of these positions pay, and most states are recruiting right now. Find out how to become a poll worker in your state.
Your audiences and organizations can band together to Get Out The Vote! We invite you to engage your communities and/or your colleagues through Open Progress. Open Progress is a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) working with Vote.org on non-partisan voter outreach, engaging millions of potential voters via person-to-person text messages through a volunteer “Turnout Troop". To learn how to organize a group and join this project, contact Ptosha Davis, Chief of Staff & Partnerships/Community Outreach of Open Progress at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our cultural spaces are our community spaces. Our creative community is our social fabric. We have a role to play in our democracy. Let's put the performing arts to work!
We are stronger together.
Lisa Richards Toney
President and CEO, APAP
*Thank you to Claire Rice at Arts Alliance Illinois and Cathy Barbash at Barbash Arts Consulting for their contributions to this communication.