Get Ready to Vote SmART: Are You Ready?
The general election is quickly approaching, and time is running out to register to vote. The last day to register or update your voter registration information is Tuesday, October 9th. If you have recently moved, it is critical that your personal information is up-to-date. Believe it or not, registering is quick and easy, and can be done online through the following site.
Once your voter registration information is current take the next step and conduct research about the candidates that could potentially represent you before heading to the polls. Votesmart.org is an excellent resource that provides objective research about candidates and elected officials. On the Project Vote Smart site, you can access voting records, candidates’ contact and biographical information, issue petitions, interest group ratings, public statements, and public finance campaign records. To find information about a candidate or elected official, enter his or her name into the search bar on the site. The information provided will help voters gain an understanding of the specific issues, including the arts, that candidates and elected officials support.
Help Us Advocate for Arts Funding
In 2012, the Colorado legislature funded the Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) at the $1.1 million level. Arts for Colorado (AFC) had to fight hard to obtain that level of funding, even though it represents a 32 percent reduction from the peak funding the agency received prior to the recession. This funding helps CCI fund grants and other arts-related programs throughout the state. Elected officials need to know how arts funding benefits communities and individuals.
Arts for Colorado will make it easy for you to make your voice heard. All you need to do is meet with an AFC representative and a local elected official to share your story about how arts funding has helped you and/or your business, and we will take care of the details. If you are interested in this opportunity to advocate directly with a member of the state legislature for the arts in our state, please email Aleah Menefee at Aleah.Menefee@westaf.org or call 303-629-1166.
Meet an AFC Board Member: Karen Gerrity, Board Secretary
Karen Gerrity has served as the Cultural Affairs Manager for the City and County of Broomfield since February of 2008. She is the secretary of the Arts for Colorado board. For the past eight years, Karen has volunteered at Heartland Hospice in respite care and bereavement.
In 1985, Gerrity graduated with a master’s degree in cultural foundations of education from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and has held leadership positions in nonprofit management and governmental positions for over 25 years. She is the founder of several thriving organizations and community programs. As a change agent, Gerrity has successfully helped nonprofit organizations emerge, go to the next level, and achieve sustainability. A list of some of the diverse organizations she has been associated with with includes: Boulder Country Day School, The Dairy Center for the Arts, Colorado Straw Bale Association, U.S. Bancorp, and the Eye Health Institute. Her experience includes board development, financial development, retreat facilitation, and strategic planning. She has helped organizations raise millions of dollars through capital campaigns, annual giving drives, membership drives, corporate sponsorships and major donor cultivation
1. How did you become involved with arts-related advocacy?
My first experience with arts-related advocacy was in 2004 when I worked on the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) reauthorization. As the Chief Operating Officer of etown, an SCFD Tier II organization at that time, I did my part to spread the word. I stood on street corners with the SCFD bear, made curtain speeches at events and spoke to organizations like the Boulder Rotary. Ever since, I have continued volunteering for arts advocacy work with the SCFD and Arts for Colorado.
2. What have you learned about arts advocacy from being involved in Arts for Colorado?
I did not realize how accessible elected officials are to the public until I attended my first Arts Day at the Capitol, which was hosted by AFC. The process of talking to elected officials is pretty simple and rewarding. In the five years that I attended this event I was able to effectively connect with my legislators.
3. At the City and County of Broomfield’s Cultural Affairs Office you serve as the Cultural Affairs Manager. Can you tell me about some of the projects you work on there?
I manage all the cultural programs and facilities for Broomfield. These include two museums, the sister cities program, public art, the allocation of public dollars for culture and an auditorium and gallery.
4. How–art-wise–does Broomfield relate to the Denver metro area art scene? How does it relate to what is happening in the arts in rural Colorado?
Broomfield is an interesting place. There is a small town feel with lots of grassroot cultural organizations (similar to rural areas). There is also a strong initiative in place to create a robust and vibrant cultural landscape illustrated by the public art program and the creation of a Cultural Affairs Division (similar to Denver). The Broomfield Auditorium and Gallery are the envy of many similar sized communities in the region. Our population is about 56,000.
5. As the Cultural Affairs Manager, how do you encourage business owners and other community leaders and elected officials to be more involved in the arts?
I am very involved in the Chamber of Commerce and make certain I share cultural information with Chamber members. I contribute tickets to events to the Chamber give-aways and reach out to local businesses with sponsorship opportunities.
6. You have leadership roles in many other arts-related organizations. Tell us about your responsibilities in those organizations.
In addition to my volunteer work with Arts for Colorado, I provide pro-bono or reduced rate consulting services as a way of giving back to my community. My consulting services include strategic planning, visioning, board development, fundraising and program development. I have helped a variety of organizations including the Boulder County Arts Alliance, Lemon Sponge Cake Ballet, Nonprofit Know How, and the Circulation Department of the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Library in Broomfield
7. What did your time at the SCFD teach you about advocacy for the arts?
My biggest advocacy-related takeaway was that it is important–sometimes essential– to have a unified voice and a consistent presence with the legislators. Anyone can become an arts advocate. Contact your legislators and keep up with arts-related policy news. Become a member of Arts for Colorado to be more informed of ways in which you can be involved in the advocacy process.