Four years ago, President Obama articulated a vision for arts and culture that recognized its role in the American experience. Although
fiscal imperatives will make it difficult, he now has four more years to
support and encourage the arts.
By successfully securing healthcare for creative
professionals, economic recovery funds that saved artists’ jobs through the
National Endowment for the Arts and ongoing support for appropriations that
fund federal cultural agencies, the President has taken many steps in
supporting the nonprofit arts sector.
Over the course of the next four years, AIGA hopes to encourage President Obama and his administration to remain focused on maintaining arts
education in every classroom and on introducing design; allocating a larger budget
for design, which is a generator of American jobs, products and
communities; and protecting charitable giving incentives that are the lifeblood
of the nonprofit arts sector.
The 2012 election offered some promising indications of public
support for the arts in local initiatives around the country. In California,
Proposition 30 was passed, which will provide billions of dollars to California’s
strapped school districts to be used for more consistent resources for arts
education, among other items. In Portland, Oregon, voters approved a $35 per income-earning resident tax measure that will be
used to restore arts education in public schools. And in Austin, Texas,
voters approved Proposition 18, which will allow the city to provide funding for
designing, constructing, improving, and equipping library, museum and cultural
arts and film production facilities.
In its role as an advocate of the interests of the design
community, AIGA makes the case for design-related policies and opportunities
directly to elected officials and government agencies. We also work regularly with
Americans for the Arts in their advocacy efforts. Finally, by informing
and supporting local action by individual members or through chapters, we seek to encourage designers to use the most effective means of leverage they have on public policy.
At this moment, all AIGA members, regardless of political affiliation, should
consider the following steps:
A summary of state, gubernatorial, congressional and presidential election results is available at votesmart.org; an election guide is also available at Congress.org.
At this moment, with all
levels of government focused on fiscal issues and job growth, the strongest
public policy argument for design is that it is critical to both innovation and
global competitiveness in the American economy. Support for developing this
critical talent in the American workforce will drive economic growth in the future.
Richard Grefé is the executive director of AIGA, the professional association for design. While guiding all of AIGA’s activities, his most significant contributions are in strategy, formulating new initiatives to enhance the competitive success of designers
and advocating the value of design to business, government and the public.
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