Legislative Session Update

On May 10th, 2012, the Colorado General Assembly completed the 2012 session. The session proved to be successful for the Creative Industries Division (CID), as a budget of almost $1.1 million was approved, including $770,000 from the Limited Gaming Funds and an additional $300,000 from the General Fund.

A further piece of legislation, HB-1132, which would have allowed sales tax credits for businesses located in Creative Districts, died on a bipartisan vote in its first committee. Legislators assured arts advocates that their “no” votes did not indicate a lack of support for the arts, but, rather, were a product of a concern that diverting state revenues toward creative businesses would draw resources away from other state priorities, such as K-12 and higher education.

Arts for Colorado lobbyist Jennifer Mello, who presented the proposal to the assembly, will continue to work with the CID and Arts for Colorado to improve funding for the arts, creating more and better opportunities for the development of the arts in Colorado.

Please check the Arts for Colorado website next week for an article featuring AFC lobbyist Jennifer Mello, in which Mello provides a summary of the legislative session and offers advice on advocating for the arts.

AFC invites you to a Presentation from Cultural Policy Expert, Arlene Goldbard
Come join Arts for Colorado on Monday, June 11th at the Dikeou Collection in downtown Denver to learn more about arts policy from industry-leading expert Arlene Goldbard. Cocktails will be provided. Please RSVP to Andy Thomas at by Thursday, June 7th. Please view the invitation below for more details. We look forward to seeing you there.

Meet a Board Member: Pam Foster
Pam Foster serves as the Chair of Arts for Colorado and Colorado Citizens for Culture.  As Chair, she ensures the board meets its advocacy goals and continually works towards the missions of both AFC and CCC. Foster has served on the AFC board for several years and believes the key to a leading a robust state arts advocacy organization is effective communication and keeping members involved through outreach activities. Foster believes in contributing to the Colorado arts community and encourages others to share their ideas and opinions on how AFC can further contribute to the arts for all Colorado citizens. Below, Foster talks about why she believes being politically active is important, her experiences as an arts advocate, and how each individual can make a difference.

  1. How did you get involved in arts-related advocacy?

My mother was a great arts and culture advocate and a leader of our local arts and humanities organization here in Craig. She made sure that the family attended arts events throughout the state, either as a participant or as a spectator. One of my grandfathers directed an orchestra here in Northwestern Colorado in the early 1900s. Many of the members of the orchestra came from miles around, some by horse and wagon. My degrees are in the fine arts and I believe truly that art feeds the soul.

  1. In what ways have you engaged with politics in Colorado, specifically, your involvement in the Republican Party?

My family was also very political, consequently, discussions at the dinner table were, at times, very robust to say the least. We were encouraged to stay up with current events from an early age, and our young thoughts and opinions were always respected.

I was a delegate to Girls’ State my junior year in high school. All delegates were chosen by their local American Legion chapters. Girls’ State was a very wonderful and intense week on the campus of Colorado Women’s College. During that week, we  established and ran a mock state government from the bottom-up and the top-down. To this day, I believe it was that experience that made me a political activist for life!

All of my immediate family and extended family have always been very entrepreneurial and fiscally conservative, with a strong belief in the constitution. I would imagine these three elements were a factor in most of the family being Republican.

I have always served on Republican Central Committee wherever I have lived. Here in Colorado, I have been Chair of the Moffat County Central Committee, Chair of the 57th House District, Chair of the 8th Senatorial District, a member of the 14th Judicial Advisory Committee and, presently, I am a Co-chair for the Colorado State Alternate Defense Commission.

  1. Can you please elaborate about how the Republican Party has helped the arts in Colorado?

There have been many arts and cultural “champions” in both political parties throughout Colorado. It is imperative that members of both parties, plus Independents, be continually educated and made aware of the tremendous economic influence art and culture have on the state’s tax revenue. Some of the recent Republican “champions” have been Representative/Senator Jack Taylor and Representative/Senator Al White, who is now the head of the Colorado Tourism Division. Both of these gentleman lead the Arts Caucus at different times, in addition to leading the way for funding the Colorado Creative Industries Division (previously the Colorado Council on the Arts) for many years.

  1. How does AFC influence policy decisions that affect entrepreneurs in the arts?

Arts for Colorado provides a strong voice for the art entrepreneurs throughout the state by networking and raising the funds to pay a lobbyist whose sole purpose is to make sure enough money is budgeted from the legislature each year to provide the Colorado Creative Industries Division with the monetary means to cover their operating expenses and grant fund expenditures. Arts for Colorado is the organization in Colorado that exists primarily to advocate for the success of artists and art and culture.

  1. Did you think that the 2012 legislative session was successful?

Yes, by the skin of our teeth and the knowledge and expertise of a great and caring lobbyist, AFC saved Colorado Creative Industries from a $400,000.00 cut in their budget. The CCI funding was literally the last item of business before the Joint Budget Committee closed the budget. It was brought forward numerous times during the JBC’s hearings, but each time it was placed on hold or pushed to the back of the stack. It was an intense three weeks, and many thanks to Senator Pat Steadman who lead the final charge for passage of a $100,000.00 cut rather than a $400,000.00 reduction, and inclusion in the final budget recommendation from the JBC to the General Assembly.

  1. What are some strategies for people living in rural areas of Colorado to become engaged in the arts?

A new Facebook presence has been established by the name of RAN, which stands for Rural Arts Now!, please check it out. RAN is always looking for new and updated information from all of the rural communities and artists. Please “like” RAN and “share,” and dig around in the site to learn how you can post information from your area–the more the merrier! The hope is that in-depth networking will take place to better connect rural arts advocates for the purposes of sharing and expanding the art foundation throughout the state.

  1. How can people be better advocates for the arts?

First, I would suggest that they become a member of AFC/CCC so they can receive the newsletter and be a integral part of the lobbying effort.

Second, I would suggest sharing your love of art or your passion for art by attending galleries, events, and happenings and visiting with others about your why you feel strongly about creativity and how it relates to life, and how art feeds your spirit and promotes ingenuity and genius.

  1. The legislative session recently ended in Colorado, how should people connect with their legislators?

Your legislators like to have you contact them. They want to know how you think and what matters to you–their constituent. Log onto Arts for Colorado and proceed to the bottom of the page. Enter your zip code and you will find phone numbers, addresses, and e-mail addresses. Just introduce yourself and state your purpose in contacting them. Leave a message if you get a recording, they will call you back. Remember–they represent YOU!

New Website
Arts for Colorado recently launched its new website. The new site allows for a more user-friendly experience and increased awareness of arts advocacy related events and news. New features on the site include a blog about current national trends within state arts advocacy organizations, a calendar with advocacy related events, and legislative updates. Please proceed to Arts for Colorado to view the site.

How to Connect with Your Legislators
Although the Colorado General Assembly is not in session, now is the perfect time to build relationships with your legislators. The most effective strategy for advocating for the arts is building a one-on-one relationship with your elected officials, their job is to listen to what is important to you. They want to hear your opinions so they can represent YOU!  Please read the AFC Advocacy Primer to learn more about effective advocacy and communications strategies. If you need the contact information for the legislators in your district, please visit: Arts for Colorado.

What Arts for Colorado Does
Because public and private funding funding – and particularly state arts funding – has played an important role in building Colorado’s cultural infrastructure, we focus much of our attention on the preservation and expansion of state arts support. To accomplish our overarching goal of strengthening the arts throughout the state, Arts for Colorado engages in the following activities:

  • Provides state leadership in advocating for the arts to enhance the quality of life for all Colorado communities
  • Convenes regional meetings of citizens to share ideas, learn about new arts developments, and crafts positions related to legislative arts initiatives
  • Provides a regular stream of information about the arts and about happenings in the arts statewide
  • Coordinates nonpartisan advocacy efforts with other arts interests in the state
  • Actively pursues wide grassroots support for arts advocacy programs
  • Meets with business, education, political, and community leaders throughout the state to inform them of the status of the arts in Colorado
  • Maintains a lobbyist in the state legislature to proactively advocate for the interests of the statewide arts community
  • Works to implement a legislative action plan and educate and grow the Legislative Arts Caucus
  • Encourages arts supporters to register to vote and to vote for candidates who support the arts

Please note that Arts for Colorado, is a 501(c) 4 organization, and donations  are not tax deductible, due to the nature of our work in lobbying. If you would like to support our other work with a tax deductible contribution, please consider giving to our sister organization, Colorado Citizens for Culture (CCC) which is a 501(c) 3, at the above mailing address, or access the CCC online giving form at XX