ICFF Local Advocacy Team Toolkit

Introduction and Instructions

Background:

This spring, we began advocating for Illinois to invest $500 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) over the next three years to support the relief, recovery, and resilience of Illinois’ creative sector. We want this dedicated fund to prioritize BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), rural, and other creative communities disproportionately impacted by COVID. 

At the end of May 2021, the IL General Assembly passed the FY22 budget and only spent $2.5B of the $8.1B the state will receive through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). This budget did not include a dedicated fund to the arts/cultural sector, nor did it provide specific relief to any other sector or industry.

We were anticipating legislators would take up ARP funding in the October veto session; however, based on recent conversations with legislators, we don’t expect they’ll be making any ARP funding decisions until next session starting in January 2022. 

Now we are contiuing to meet with legislators and keeping the pressure on our elected officials to make the arts and cultural sector a priority. We are urging the state to create a dedicated fund as part of the spending plan for the remaining $5.6 billion. 

What is the Illinois Creative Future Fund Ask? 

COVID continues to devastate our state’s creative sector. Each day more arts, arts education, and cultural organizations face permanent closure. The Illinois General Assembly must act now.

We urge the State of Illinois to invest $500 million from ARP over the next three years in the relief, recovery, and resilience of Illinois’ creative sector, prioritizing BIPOC, rural, and other communities disproportionately impacted by COVID.

This investment would include the following:

  • Independent Venues — $100 million
  • Performing Arts Organizations — $100 million
  • Museums, Visual Arts, & Cultural Heritage — $75 million
  • Workforce Development — $75 million
  • Arts Education — $75 million
  • Capital / Infrastructure — $75 million

We call on every legislator to (1) urge their leadership to introduce and advance this proposal, (2) commit to voting “yes” on it, and (3) ask their colleagues to do the same.

The full $500 million would be appropriated into a new dedicated fund – Illinois Creative Future Fund (ICFF) – for use over the next three years and safeguarded against diversion to other purposes.

 

This is where you come in: 

As a Local Advocate, you have one of the most powerful tools to make this fund possible. Engaging elected officials while they are in their district makes a huge difference. 

Sure, it sounds a little intimidating. Arts Alliance Illinois will help you bring members of your community together and use your collective voice to support the arts and creative sector. As a Local Advocate, you and your team will be asked to: 

  • Bring together creatives and arts leaders in your district to have a joint  meeting with your state legislator(s)
  • Implement a Social Media Toolkit
  • Optional (if you have the time!): Organize artists in your community for “Art Activations” in your district. 
  • Report back to the Alliance about how your meeting went and share your learning with other Local Advocates across the state

 If you are doing this alone, in a group, for the first time, or are a seasoned advocacy guru – we are glad to have you as part of our team going into October’s veto session. Please use the resources in this toolkit below and take advantage of our office hours if you have any questions.

How to Gather your Team

There is strength in numbers, and that is definitley true when it comes to meeting with legislators.

Engaging elected officials while they are in their district makes a huge difference. Sure, it sounds a little intimidating. Arts Alliance Illinois will help you bring members of your community together and use your collective voice to support the arts and creative sector.

Feel free to use our office hours to help you do the following: 

  • Research your state legislators and your district
  • Recruit team members for legislator meetings
  • Connect you with other advocates in your area
  • Prepare and maximize team members for your legislator meetings

Tips for Meeting with your Legislators

 

Super important! See Arts Alliance’s handbook for meeting with legislators, how to get in the room, how to make your case, and how to follow-up effectively. 

Talking Points for Meeting with Legislators

So you’re “in the room” with your legislator, what do you actually say? 

Here’s the ask: 

  • Present the Arts Alliance ICFF Proposal above
  • We want every legislator to take these actions:
      • Urge their leadership to introduce and advance the ICFF proposal,
      • Commit to voting yes on it, and
      • Ask their colleagues to do the same.
  • Tell a story of why this ask is important to you, from your experience as a culture worker or arts supporter. Use your own story, but feel free to add a talking point or two from our suggestions below.  The talking points help back the asks up! We’ve tailored talking points based on geographic area and political party.

While we think these points are persuasive, there are many reasons to support ICFF. MOST IMPORTANT: tell your own story of the negative impact of COVID on your work and life, do not feel you have to hit on all of the ideas we’ve offered. Feel free to choose any points below that resonate with you, but also please speak from your own experiences. 

Talking Point Instructions

From the drop-down menu below, choose the area in which you live:

  1. City of Chicago (>2.5M population)
  2. City with population 50,000 – 2.5M
  3. Small Town / Rural Area (<50,000 population)

Tailored talking points will appear, customized based on whether your legislator is Democrat or Republican. You have two state legislators – a Senator and House Representative – and they could be from different parties.

These are general categories, but every legislator is different.  For help crafting your message, contact Jonathan at vanderbrug@artsalliance.org.

City of Chicago - Democrat

Creative Sector in Crisis – Our sector remains in crisis, especially given the Delta variant. Focus on urgency. The legislature must act now.

    • As first to close and last to reopen, the arts have been hit particularly hard. Arts organizations will remain at risk of permanent closure for the foreseeable future, even with re-openings.
    • Even before Delta, arts nonprofits were predicted to take longer to recover than other nonprofits, with an estimated recovery of 25.5 months based on average job recovery rates. [2020, Hopkins]

Racial Equity – Due to persistent systemic racism, BIPOC arts organizations have fewer resources to weather the prolonged COVID crisis.

    • A 2020 study by The Bridgespan Group found that the unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations were 76% smaller than white-led organizations.

Losing Talent – Chicago is losing creative professionals to New York City, L.A., and other areas where the arts are receiving significant ARP funds from the city and state. If the Illinois General Assembly doesn’t act now, Chicago’s workforce will suffer an “innovation drain” that will take decades to reverse.

    Other States – We must stay competitive. Other states have heavily invested ARP funds in the arts. For example:

    • New York passed a FY22 budget that gives their creative sector over $200 million in dedicated funds, plus access to $800 million in recovery grants.
    • California just invested over $600 million in relief for their creative sector, including support for venues, arts nonprofits, museums, arts education, workforce projects, and capital.
    City of Chicago - Republican

    Illinois General Assembly districts centered on the City of Chicago are almost all represented by Democrats. (Illinois House District 20, currently held by a Republican, includes part of northwest City of Chicago.)

    If you are engaging a Republican legislator, click instead on “City with population 50,000 – 2.5M” and scroll down to “Republican.”

    City with population 50,000 - 2.5M - Democrat

    Creative Sector in Crisis – Our sector remains in crisis, especially given the Delta variant. Focus on urgency. The legislature must act now.

    • As first to close and last to reopen, the arts have been hit particularly hard. Arts organizations will remain at risk of permanent closure for the foreseeable future, even with re-openings.
    • Even before Delta, arts nonprofits were predicted to take longer to recover than other nonprofits, with an estimated recovery of 25.5 months based on average job recovery rates. [2020, Hopkins] 

    Racial Equity – Due to persistent systemic racism, BIPOC arts organizations have fewer resources to weather the prolonged COVID crisis.

      • A 2020 study by The Bridgespan Group found that the unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations were 76% smaller than white-led organizations.

      Geographic Equity – State funding is needed to help level the playing field of COVID relief for the arts, which to date has heavily favored Chicago. 

      • The Mayor of Chicago’s budget proposal outlines $26 million, including $16 million in ARP Recovery Funds, to arts and culture in the city.  There are rich cultural assets around the state, and we must demonstrate that Illinois values the recovery of our creative sector statewide.

      Losing Talent – Illinois cities like ours are losing creative professionals to New York City, L.A., and other areas where the arts are receiving significant ARP funds from the city and state. If the Illinois General Assembly doesn’t act now, Chicago’s workforce will suffer an “innovation drain” that will take decades to reverse.

        City with population 50,000-2.5M - Republican

        Creative Sector in Crisis – Our sector remains in crisis, especially given the Delta variant. Focus on urgency. The legislature must act now.

        • As first to close and last to reopen, the arts have been hit particularly hard. Arts organizations will remain at risk of permanent closure for the foreseeable future, even with re-openings.
        • Even before Delta, arts nonprofits were predicted to take longer to recover than other nonprofits, with an estimated recovery of 25.5 months based on average job recovery rates. [2020, Hopkins] 

        Economic Recovery – Illinois’ recovery needs a strong creative sector. The sector contributes $30 billion to our state’s economy annually and employs nearly a quarter million workers. [US BEA]

        Losing Talent – Illinois cities like ours are losing creative professionals to New York City, L.A., and other areas where the arts are receiving significant ARP funds from the city and state. If the Illinois General Assembly doesn’t act now, Chicago’s workforce will suffer an “innovation drain” that will take decades to reverse..

        Geographic Equity – State funding is needed to help level the playing field of COVID relief for the arts, which to date has heavily favored Chicago. 

        • The Mayor of Chicago’s budget proposal outlines $26 million, including $16 million in ARP Recovery Funds, to arts and culture in the city. There are rich cultural assets around the state, and we must demonstrate that Illinois values the recovery of our creative sector statewide.
        Small town or Rural area - population less than 50,000 - Democrat

        Creative Sector in Crisis – Our sector remains in crisis, especially given the Delta variant. Focus on urgency. The legislature must act now.

        • As first to close and last to reopen, the arts have been hit particularly hard. Arts organizations will remain at risk of permanent closure for the foreseeable future, even with re-openings.
        • Even before Delta, arts nonprofits were predicted to take longer to recover than other nonprofits, with an estimated recovery of 25.5 months based on average job recovery rates. [2020, Hopkins] 

        Geographic Equity – Larger urban areas tend to have a greater concentration of arts funders and are also receiving more overall ARP dollars. 

        • Approximately 20% of Americans live in rural communities, yet under 2% of arts foundation funding goes to cultural groups in these areas. [2017, Helicon]
        • The Mayor of Chicago’s budget proposal outlines $26 million, including $16 million in ARP Recovery Funds, to arts and culture in the city. There are rich cultural assets around the state, and we must demonstrate that Illinois values the recovery of our creative sector statewide.

        Losing Talent – Creative professionals are leaving our community for Chicago and even out of state, where the arts are being kept strong through greater ARP support (see above). Unless the Illinois General Assembly acts now, our local workforce will suffer an “innovation drain” that will take decades to reverse.

        Other states have heavily invested ARP funds in the arts. For example:

        • New York passed a FY22 budget that gives their creative sector over $200 million in dedicated funds, plus access to $800 million in recovery grants.
        • California just invested over $600 million in relief for their creative sector, including support for venues, arts nonprofits, museums, arts education, workforce projects, and capital.
        Small town or Rural area - population less than 50,000 - Republican

        Creative Sector in Crisis – Our sector remains in crisis, especially given the Delta variant. Focus on urgency. The legislature must act now.

        • As first to close and last to reopen, the arts have been hit particularly hard. Arts organizations will remain at risk of permanent closure for the foreseeable future, even with re-openings.
        • Even before Delta, arts nonprofits were predicted to take longer to recover than other nonprofits, with an estimated recovery of 25.5 months based on average job recovery rates. [2020, Hopkins] 

        Geographic Equity – Larger urban areas tend to have a greater concentration of arts funders and are also receiving more overall ARP dollars. 

        • Approximately 20% of Americans live in rural communities, yet under 2% of arts foundation funding goes to cultural groups in these areas. [2017, Helicon]
        • The Mayor of Chicago’s budget proposal outlines $26 million, including $16 million in ARP Recovery Funds, to arts and culture in the city.  There are rich cultural assets around the state, and we must demonstrate that Illinois values the recovery of our creative sector statewide.

        Economic Recovery – Illinois’ recovery needs a strong creative sector. The sector contributes $30 billion to our state’s economy annually and employs nearly a quarter million workers. [US BEA]

        Losing Talent – Chicago is losing creative professionals to New York City, L.A., and other areas where the arts are receiving significant ARP funds from the city and state. If the Illinois General Assembly doesn’t act now, Chicago’s workforce will suffer an “innovation drain” that will take decades to reverse.

        All Talking Points

        Below is the list of all talking points for ICFF. If there are ones you feel are particularly important, feel free to add them to your Top 4 talking points (tailored by geography and party, see above).

        Creative Sector in Crisis – Our sector remains in crisis, especially given the Delta variant. Focus on urgency. The legislature must act now.

        • As first to close and last to reopen, the arts have been hit particularly hard. Arts organizations will remain at risk of permanent closure for the foreseeable future, even with re-openings.
        • Even before Delta, arts nonprofits were predicted to take longer to recover than other nonprofits, with an estimated recovery of 25.5 months based on average job recovery rates. [2020, Hopkins] 

        Racial Equity – Due to persistent systemic racism, BIPOC arts organizations have fewer resources to weather the prolonged COVID crisis.

        • A 2020 study by The Bridgespan Group found that the unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations were 76% smaller than white-led organizations.

        Geographic Equity – State funding is needed to help level the playing field of COVID relief for the arts, which to date has heavily favored Chicago. 

        • The Mayor of Chicago’s budget proposal outlines $26 million, including $16 million  in ARP Recovery Funds, to arts and culture in the city.  There are rich cultural assets around the state, and we must demonstrate that Illinois values the recovery of our creative sector statewide.
        • Approximately 20% of Americans live in rural communities, yet under 2% of arts foundation funding goes to cultural groups in these areas. [2017, Helicon]

        Losing Talent – Chicago is losing creative professionals to New York City, L.A., and other areas where the arts are receiving significant ARP funds from the city and state. If the Illinois General Assembly doesn’t act now, Chicago’s workforce will suffer an “innovation drain” that will take decades to reverse.

        Other States have heavily invested ARP funds in the arts. For example:

        • New York passed a FY22 budget that gives their creative sector over $200 million in dedicated funds, plus access to $800 million in recovery grants.
        • California just invested over $600 million in relief for their creative sector, including support for venues, arts nonprofits, museums, arts education, workforce projects, and capital.

        Current Aid does not come close to addressing the depth and length of the impact on our sector, especially as COVID continues with no quick end in sight.

        • Vital federal support (such as PPP, SVOG, pandemic unemployment benefits) has ended. 
        • Although Illinois’ Back to Business grant program includes $30 million to arts and entertainment businesses, the grants are essentially not a possibility for many nonprofits due to how loss is calculated / reported.

        Economic Recovery – Illinois’ recovery needs a strong creative sector. The sector contributes $30 billion to our state’s economy annually and employs nearly a quarter million workers. [US BEA]

        Holistic Recovery – The arts bolster neighborhood vitality, address long-standing inequities, and help heal and rebuild our spirit in this time of crisis. 

        Arts Education – Given the impacts of COVID on learning, students need the arts now more than ever. 

        • Arts education contributes to social & emotional learning, vital to students’ ability to recover from the COVID crisis. The arts help produce perseverance, foster self-awareness, and strengthen student engagement. [Varner]
        • The arts help close the achievement gap. Low-income students who have arts-rich experiences in high school are more than 3 times as likely to earn a B.A. [Catterall]

        Cross-Sector Benefits – In-demand fields such as health care, marketing, and IT need creative workers: digital video editors, communications specialists, and graphic designers, to name a few. More than 70% of companies rate creativity as a primary concern when hiring. [CB/AASA]

        Illinois Has the Funds to make this desperately needed investment now. To date, the General Assembly has appropriated only 1/3 ($2.5 billion) of Illinois’ $8.1 billion in ARP funds.

         

        Federal Guidance – In providing guidance to states on use of ARP funds, the U.S. Treasury has pointed to COVID’s disproportionate impact on the arts sector. Treasury’s interim final rule cites a 24% drop in gross output in the arts and connected industries.

        Extensive Support – This ICFF proposal is strongly supported by a diverse, statewide coalition. Click [[[here]]] to see coalition partners.

        Leave Behind Document for Meetings

        After you’ve met with your legislator, you want to make sure they have all the information about what you’re asking. We can’t depend on them to take good notes! We’ve put together a one-pager that describes the ask. You can send it via email to your legislator or take a physical copy in to leave with them (if you’re meeting in-person). 

        Social Media Toolkit

        Meetings with legislators are critical, but we also need friends, family, other artists and creative workers, and art supporters to email and call their legislators. Our social media toolkit is here! 

        Register your Arts Activation Event

        Want to do a lil’ extra for the cause? Whether you are the official Local Arts Advocate for the campaign, artist, or arts organization; you can help plan an Arts Activation in your district!

        Examples include inviting your legislator to a performance or opening or planning a performance / displaying art outside your legislator’s office.  Let us know how you are planning to activate artists in your local community to make an impact. 

        If you need help thinking through ideas, signup for our office hours. 

        Share your Feedback with Arts Alliance