2016 TCG National Conference: Visit Capitol Hill!

Testimonials from TCG Board Members:

Caption: Back row, L to R: Kwame Kwei-Armah (Center Stage), Lynn Deering (Trustee, Center Stage), Chris Jennings (Shakespeare Theatre Company), John Hauge (Trustee, The Shakespeare Theatre Company); Julie Morris (Trustee); Brandon Gryde (Director of Government Affairs, Dance/USA and OPERA America); Front row: Kevin E. Moore (Managing Director, TCG); Max Leventhal (The Woodruff Arts Center)

Jon Moscone (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts): “Going to the Hill was exhilarating—working with colleagues and professionals who understand the national political landscape was such an education and a rush. Sitting down with Leader Pelosi was indeed the highlight as it revealed how much she knew about the arts in the national arena, which definitely comes from her personal passion for our field.”

Diane Rodriguez (Center Theatre Group): “I have to admit I was nervous. At my first Hill meeting I watched my more experienced colleagues take the lead and I listened and even managed to contribute. That I was all I needed. Laurie Baskin and her team had prepared us well. After each meeting there was an adrenaline rush. Truly you experience the democratic interaction of citizen and elected official and it’s thrilling. It’s grassroots activism at its best and mildly addictive (I have to admit). If you can make the time, it’s a life event and everyone should do it!”

Chris Jennings (Shakespeare Theatre Company): “I had lobbied state legislatures before on other issues but had never done a Hill visit on behalf of the arts. It was truly a great experience. First, TCG did a fantastic job in preparing us as well as having an experienced lobbyist guide us through. It was further enhanced by going with such well-spoken and passionate colleagues. I was surprised at the ease in which each of us was able to handoff the discussion to one another to best make our points. I was also equally impressed that we all found ways to put forward the human face of the arts—telling real stories of lives impacted—not just facts and figures. I often get discouraged living in DC where we don’t have a true political voice. But I was happy to see that our voice was certainly important in adjoining states as well as serving as a face to those representatives who work here locally. I hope that more and more people will become active and share their stories.”

Max Leventhal (The Woodruff Arts Center): “From the great state of Georgia, the offices of Senator Saxby Chambliss and Representative John Lewis were represented by staff who were open to hearing our concerns and generous with their time. I would say that both their focus seemed more pointed towards the issues of preserving the charitable deduction and the IRA Rollover, than discussing the budget of the NEA, the Education Department, or the auction of frequencies that might impact wireless microphone transmission."

Kwame Kwei-Armah (Center Stage): “This was my first ever Hill visit and I have to say I found it terribly exciting. The group I was in was extremely articulate and politically savvy, so advocating for the arts in general and issues closer to us as theatrical practitioners specifically seemed to be handled with ease. In truth we got better as we went along. What was really inspiring however was the interest displayed by the congressperson/senators special advisors. They seemed to listen. And we can ask no more of them than that. Apart from doing what we have asked them to do.”

Please contact Laurie Baskin at TCG with any questions.