March 27, 2017
The Educational Theatre Association was well represented at Arts Advocacy Day 2017, March 20-21 in Washington, D.C. Thirty-six EdTA delegates from 16 states attended, including Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. The group included EdTA Board President Frank Pruet and Vice President Debbie Corbin, and the organization’s six International Thespian Officers: Grace Alt, chair (Springfield Township High School, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania), Shaila Seth, vice chair (Rock Ridge High School, Ashburn, Virginia), Austin Norsworthy (Sunnyvale [Texas] High School), Brittany Smith (Dubuque [Iowa] Senior High School), Ryan Pangracs (Leavenworth [Kansas] Senior High School, and MacKenzie Staples (Buford [Georgia] High School). Also attending was this year’s Democracyworks student essay competition winner Lance Junck (Branson [Missouri] High School), as well as the five Hawkins Award recipients representing their state boards: Raina Ames (New Hampshire); Michael Daehn (Indiana); Mark Drum (New York); Kirk Erickson (Michigan); and Troy Taylor (Alabama).
Sponsored by Americans for the Arts, Arts Advocacy Day draws arts advocates from across the country to lobby on behalf of legislative initiatives and financial support for the arts and arts education. In a record year of attendance, more than 700 attendees spent a day being briefed on current arts-related legislation, including funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and support for the arts education provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Participants were also trained in how to make an appropriate appeal to legislators for support on issues pending before Congress. In an evening reception at the Kennedy Center, Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, make an impassioned address in which he spoke of the importance of the arts to all people, regardless of their socioeconomic status. On day two, delegates traveled to Capitol Hill for a breakfast with arts-supportive legislators and other policymakers before heading out to Congressional offices of senators and House members to make the case for arts and arts education.