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Bob Lynch Addresses Arts Activists in San Jose City Hall
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Amid grave fears that more arts organizations in San Jose will go under in this epoch of financial disaster, Robert Lynch, President of Americans for the Arts gave a rousing presentation that lifted spirits for a crowd of San Jose arts activists gathered in San Jose Council Chambers. Spiced with solid and important facts, Lynch delivered the message that even now there are ways to get government support for the arts, from local to national. After all, Lynch stated, even the economic gurus like Alan Greenspan seem to acknowledge that “Creativity and creative problem solving comes from arts experience.”

So how did 50 million dollars for the arts that was trimmed from the stimulus package miraculously reappear? Members of the US Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities managed to get the message out that the arts mean dollars in their neighborhoods. They want and need the arts to survive. Pressure from arts advocacy groups provided links to individual Senators and Congress People – Nancy Pelosi was critical – along with other sympathetic senators who managed to get the wording changed so that the arts and arts centers were not linked to casinos. As a result there will now be stimulus dollars going to the NEA, and community block grants among other arts related recipients.

As part of their ongoing commitment to elevate the awareness of the role of arts in education and communities, Lynch showed examples of public service announcements that Americans for the Arts have prepared for television with donations and help from Disney studios. The aim of the PSAs is to create a climate where the arts can survive, generate more resources for the arts and arts education, and enhance cultural awareness and individual value in the arts experience. These PSAs are essential reminders to the public to support potential investment in the arts.

Americans for the Arts were instrumental in getting arts platforms into the recent campaign for president with candidates from Hillary Clinton to Mike Huckabee. Interestingly, Lynch noted, the most extensive arts platform came from the campaign of Barak Obama.

Lynch spoke of more of the activities that Americans for the Arts support. They gather statistics on the numbers of arts organizations and businesses in every congressman’s district as a means to proving the economic impact the arts have everywhere. They place ads in political publications stressing the links of arts to jobs and all the practical outcomes that communities experience as a result of the arts. (Did you know that statistics show that at risk communities experiencing violence and blight are able to reduce these conditions when the arts enter the schools and community? Lynch asserted, “Communities become safer with the arts. Healing is advanced with the arts.”)

Lynch stressed that we must make the case for support of the arts over and over again. An amazing fact that Lynch revealed was that a “landslide” of public opinion over an issue, in most politicians’ offices, consists of around 10 letters for or against an issue. We get it. Those letters are easy to write and so influential! At this time the arts remain number 10 on a list of priorities presented to the Obama Administration by the National Conference of Mayors.

San Jose’s awareness and support for advancing the arts is growing under the Reed administration. The City’s embrace of First Act’s vision is a major commitment. Last year as a run up to Zero1, the City of San Jose began lending Council Chambers for guest speakers involved in online efforts that explored social issues expressed through the arts or by artists. Lynch’s address on behalf of arts advocacy continues that endorsement of the arts as integral to the economy and overall wellbeing of the City of San Jose.

The next lecture is scheduled for 9 am on March 12 in the Rotunda, where Randy Cohen, also from Americans for the Arts, will address those interested in the survival of the arts and a panel discussion will ensue. Cohen’s address is entitled Putting Research Into Action. Panel participants are Diem Jones of Arts Council Silicon Valley, Connie Martinez of First Act and Brad Erickson of California Advocates for the Arts.

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