The Mouse That Roared – An Arts Advocacy Success Story

You may be familiar with the expression or even the story The Mouse That Roared (1955) where in every episode of the story, you find the small Duchy of Grand Fenwick in situations that were absurd or outlandish, where they faced superpowers and won. If you haven’t heard of the story, let me relate a small Colorado scenario for you.

You see, the membership of Arts for Colorado can immediately relate to the challenges facing small voices and the need for our opinions to be heard on the Capitol steps and in the halls of the Colorado House and Senate.

Recently, we brought in citizens and students who spoke eloquently about their passion for the arts, and gathered at Arts Advocacy Day (3/2/2016) in Denver.

The day started with coffee to fight off the chill of late winter, as we witnessed an advocacy sketch prepared by the student leadership of Colorado State Thespians. We then heard from Jennifer Mello, lobbyist with Brandeberry McKenna Public Affairs, and AnnMarie Jensen, from Jensen Associates. They shared the dos and don’ts for speaking with your legislators. And we were off, walking to the Capitol with our charge in hand.

Our message this year was in supporting the reauthorization of SCFD, and attempting to shift a little more funding to the underdogs, the culturally diverse Tier III organizations. As with politics the wheels spin rather slowly, so ours was only one additional voice at the table, and certainly not the last voice. But it worked. With the small group of citizens that spoke up (CAST3, Arts for Colorado, FACE2016, and others), the SCFD Board decided to draft a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which provided additional funding to the Tier IIIs, without amending the current bill. The mouse roared, and the mouse was heard.

You may or may not realize that “politics are not just political figures and leaders we vote for, but issues that affect you whether you decide to pay attention or not. Decisions in the government play a role into our daily lives with and without your participation. It is easy to put your attention and energy into things that don’t seem so daunting or complex, however, it can be very dangerous not educating yourself on what is going on in the world. Knowledge is power, and the more you learn about how our government works the stronger your voice will be. You can be able to make valid arguments with what you do agree with or against what you don’t agree with; you can take a stance.

“We cannot move toward change without understanding the system that governs us, how things are done, and why. Soon it will be our generation that will be in charge of this country; we have the chance to change things. It won’t happen though if we remain uninformed.” (American Politics and History, 2016)

About the author – Dr. Jay Seller is the executive director for Think 360 Arts for Learning, and the vice president of Arts for Colorado