Advocacy 101: Out-of-Session Advocacy
In Connecticut, our General Assembly—composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives—convene for regular sessions in the winter and spring. In even-numbered years (like 2020), the General Assembly is in session from February to May. In odd-numbered years (like 2019), when the state budget must be drafted and approved, the regular session runs from January through June.

During the months when the General Assembly is “in session,” CAA has sometimes called our members to action to support (or sometimes oppose) a proposed bill. In April 2019, we held an Advocacy Day with the Tourism Coalition in the State Legislative Office Building, and we invited CAA members to participate.

During the in session period (in odd-numbered years), much focus lies on debating the state budget. In addition, bills that affect the arts and arts education may be proposed, referred to committee, debated, “die” in committee from inaction, or move through the legislative process to become law.

But what about the “out-of-session” months? Between June and January, much can be done to advocate for the arts, arts education, and each of our organizations individually. Here are some suggestions:

  • Add your legislators to your mailing list. To find your current representatives and senators, click here. State legislators in office now are not up for re-election until 2020. (All State Senators and Representatives in Connecticut have two-year terms with no term limits.)
  • Invite your legislators to performances, special events, and openings. Introduce them and, when appropriate and if time allows, invite them to speak briefly if they’d like.
  • Invite your legislators for a tour or meeting outside of your normal performance or event schedule. This allows for more in-depth conversation about your organization, their work in the General Assembly, and issues that are important to you.

For tips on how to contact your legislators, click here . All of these advocacy actions will help you to get to know your legislator now so that you’ll have an established relationship during the in-session months when we may call on them to support us and the arts industry. That established relationship may be key to getting a quick response, an open ear, or even their vote.
Thank Your Legislators for State Arts Awards
Earlier this month, the Department of Economic and Community Development announced state Office of the Arts grants in four categories for fiscal year 2020 .

If your organization received a grant, we encourage you to thank your legislators. Whether or not they supported the budget that made these grants possible, legislators should hear about the positive impact that state money dedicated to the arts is having on our organizations and those they serve (who are also our legislators’ constituents and voters). In addition to thanking legislators, invite them for a photo opportunity when grant checks are presented; and then promote the photo and award.

Please also thank the Office of the Arts itself! Elizabeth Shapiro, the new Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums, and the entire COA staff work hard with limited resources to administer grant programs and other services for our community and state. Contact information for the COA staff is online here .