Arts Congress is one special day each year when you can make your voice heard at the State Capitol


Registration Closes February 14, 2018

Arts and culture advocates, patrons, educators business people and arts leaders gather on one day each year at the State Capitol, while the Arizona State Legislature is meeting to speak directly to their state legislators about the importance of support for arts and culture in our state.

Arizona Citizens for the Arts provides you with training materials and talking points for your meetings with legislators. This is the one special day of the year when arts supporters come from all around the state to be seen and heard at the Capitol. Do not miss it. The event will be held on the House Lawn of the Arizona State Capitol, 1700 W. Washington.

Arts Congress will take place February 19, 2018

Registration Deadline: Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Note: Arts Congress 2018 occurs on Presidents’ Day, and the State Legislature will be in session. Help celebrate our country’s historic leaders by engaging in civic action on behalf of the contributions arts and culture make to the public good in in your local community.


Registration begins at 7:30 am, will remain open all day, and program activities will run until 2pm.

Prepare for Arts Congress 2018

NOTE: You do NOT need to print the materials available here. Everything will be provided to attendees via email prior to the event and you will receive an information packet, along with your confirmed legislative meetings for your district at registration.

Key Points

Prepare for Arts Congress 2018 by reading the background here about actions in recent years at the State and Local level that have impacted funding for arts, culture and arts education.

The last several years have been extremely difficult for nonprofit arts and culture organizations as the nation and Arizona have emerged from the Great Recession.

In Arizona especially, tight budgets because of declining tax revenues resulted in declining support among state legislators for funding the Arizona Commission on the Arts.  The Arts Commission is a state agency empowered in state law to support the arts in Arizona through grants to arts organizations, artists and arts educators and by providing other programs and services designed to support the vitality of the arts in our state.

After losing most of its funding sources during the recession, the Arts Commission was first allocated $1 million from the state’s “rainy day“fund in Fiscal Year 2014.. It also received $1 million from the “rainy day” fund in Fiscal Year 2015. In Fiscal 2016, the Commission received no allocation,

forcing it to operate with its lowest grant budget in more than 30 years. Commission grants across the state were cut, on average, in half and many programs some Commission programs were eliminated.

Working with a bipartisan coalition of legislators in two years ago, Arizona Citizens for the Arts was instrumental in securing a $1.5 million for the Arts Commission in in the Fiscal Year2017 state budget. That success was repeated last year for the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

This year, Arizona Citizens for the Arts is supporting the Arts Commission’s submitted request for $2 million for Fiscal Year 2018 as a reasonable increase that will allow the Commission to maintain its current level of support to existing commission programs, while extending important support to new programs that promote the use of arts in rural communities and other area currently underserved by the Commission, and other programs supporting services for older adults.

In the lists below, you can see which organizations in your district received grants this year. This list is also provided to each legislator.

Workshop Descriptions

Please note that registration opens at 7:30 AM this year to accommodate earlier legislative meetings & a workshop for first time attendees scheduled before meetings begin

Megaphone for your Mission
AKA Advocacy 101, this session will give first-time attendees of Arts Congress an idea of what to expect. David will walk through how to meet with your legislature and how to apply the advocacy skills you will learn in the rest of the workshops.  Presenter: Patrick McWhortor, Founder, Lead for Change
Overview of Legislative Session

This session will give an overview of what we can expect to see in the Legislative session.  It will cover the key issues being discussed at the Capitol along with what topics may have major impacts on the State budget. 

Presenter: Todd Baughman, Policy Development Group

Imagine Arizona’s Brightest Future

Presented by the Arizona Commission on the Arts. In this presentation, you will learn about some of the ways the Arizona Commission on the Arts serves communities throughout the state and works to unleash the boundless creative potential of Arizona’s residents in realizing Arizona’s brightest future.

Presenters: Steve Wilcox, Communications Director

Arts Education State Initiatives

Join the team for an update on the collaborative efforts of Arizona Citizens for the Arts, Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the Arizona Department of Education to promote more arts education in K-12 schools. Learn what’s new in the Arts Commission programming in arts education, and what’s happening to arts education as the state continues to revise school accountability plans. Most importantly, learn what you can do to support arts education in your local school.

Presenters: Catherine “Rusty” Foley, Executive Director of Arizona Citizens for the Arts; Elisa Radcliffe, Arts Learning Manager at the Arizona Commission on the Arts

Storytelling in Advocacy

Research shows that people are motivated by emotional, story-based appeals much more than by rational data. Join us for an interactive introduction to the storytelling basics that will help you shape powerful stories for arts advocacy. Participants will: learn basics of story structure and tools; consider several foundational stories to add to their toolbox; leave with the framework and additional resources to put their storytelling into practice to help bring their organizations alive to legislators, board members, and potential funders.

Presenters: Liz Warren and Carly Davis of South Mountain Community College’s Storytelling Institute

All workshops are 45 min

AC_FAQ Header Full

Arts Congress can seem overwhelming, especially if you've never engaged in... dare we say it? ADVOCACY. We work to make the day as seamless and comfortable as possible. Advocates just like you gather on the Senate lawn for coffee and registration on the morning of Arts Congress and meet with their district team members and leader to discuss the schedule and talking points for the day.

We know that meeting with legislators can be a daunting task, so we've got all your questions about Arts Congress answered in this FAQ.  This is your opportunity to talk to your legislator about how important arts and culture is to you and your community and make a difference.