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


Registration Closes January 15, 2019

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 January 22, 2019

Registration Deadline: Tuesday, January 15, 2019



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

Prepare for Arts Congress 2019

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 2019 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 Commission programs were eliminated.

Working with a bipartisan coalition of legislators three years ago, Arizona Citizens for the Arts was instrumental in securing a $1.5 million for the Arts Commission in the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget. That success was repeated again for the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Last year, Arizona Citizens for the Arts successfully advocated for the Arts Commission’s request for $2 million for Fiscal Year 2019 as a reasonable increase to maintain its current level of support to existing commission grantees and programs, while extending important support to new programs in communities that haven’t been served before or were underserved by the Arts Commission before.

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

Advocacy 101

Are you looking for more public support for your arts and culture mission? Do you need to make your case to elected officials? Assuming your answer is “yes” to either question, you need to understand how important advocacy is to your success. 

Some people are intimidated by the word “advocacy.” But advocacy is really just the means by which we persuade others to our point of view, the value of our work and the need for action on behalf of our issues. But how do we do it? When it comes to working with election officials – what is legal and what isn’t? How can you employ strategies that raise the level of support for your mission? 

This lively session will answer those questions and prepare you to share your passion for arts and culture, and persuade your elected officials to lend their support to the arts and culture, too.

Presenter: Kristen Merrifield, CAE – Chief Executive Officer, Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits

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, Lobbyist, Policy Development Group

Investing for Impact

According to recent national polling, Arizonans have an overwhelmingly positive attitude toward the arts, citing the positive impact the arts have on personal and community well-being, the education of young people, and the state’s economy. In this session you’ll learn about some of the ways the Arizona Commission on the Arts ensures access to arts experiences that support and extend these benefits to all Arizonans.

Presenters: Steve Wilcox, Communications Director, Arizona Commission on the Arts

Mapping Access, Charting Opportunity

Who has access to arts education in Arizona schools? A comprehensive tool prepared by Quadrant Research compiles data self-reported through the Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE) data systems about arts course offerings and participation in state schools. A partnership between ADE and the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the dashboard allows you to search arts course offerings and enrollment by discipline, county, district, & school. Want to know the percentage of students enrolled in dance courses in your county? The dashboard can tell you that! Want to know what arts disciplines are offered at your school? The dashboard can tell you that! Come explore ways to utilize this tool. Get a clear picture of arts education in the state. Imagine possibilities for leveraging this information to advance universal access to art education for all our Arizona students. 


Dustin Loehr, Director of Arts Education & Title IV-A, Arizona Department of Education

Haley Honeman, Title IV-A Arts Education Specialist, Arizona Department of Education

Elisa Lucía Radcliffe, Arts Learning Manager, Arizona Commission on the Arts

Anastasia Freyermuth, Arts Learning and Evaluation Coordinator, Arizona Commission on the Arts

Creative Economies

Many people think the arts are luxuries we can do without in times of economic strife, and not necessities that drive social and economic progress. In fact, the arts and other creative disciplines provide an engine that can both stabilize impoverished communities and advance growth across the city and state from which we all benefit. This workshop will explore some of the latest data about the impact of artists, creativity-driven organizations, and creative entrepreneurs,  and how Arizona citizens really feel about the presence and role of arts and culture in our communities. We’ll cover how the economic contributions of these creators is measured, and identify the extensive reach of these individuals and organizations through many sectors of the economy in Arizona and beyond.

Presenters: Stuart Graff, President and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

The Power of Your Story

Statistics and reports tell only part of the story about the positive impact of the arts.  Stakeholders often respond to a moving, representative story about the ways the arts have changed your life or community.  This interactive workshop will help you shape your personal stories into a powerful message for arts support.

Presenters: Rob Chambers, Arizona School for the Arts

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.