Connecting with your elected officials on Arts Day

Successful advocacy is all about ongoing relationships.  One of the most effective ways to make your case for your cause is through personal visits to your legislator’s office or in their home district.

Setting up a meeting on Arts Day 2015

  • Click here to find your legislators’ contact information.
  • The best approach is to make a direct call to the legislator’s office, and send a follow-up email with the information afterwards.
  • When you call, ask to speak to the aide in charge of scheduling appointments.
  • Tell the aide that you are a constituent and will be in Madison for Arts Day for Arts on March 11, and are calling for two reasons:
    — to invite the legislator to attend the Arts Day Legislative Breakfast, 8:30-10:30 am at the Madison Public Library, 201 West Mifflin Street.  The program begins at 9 am.  Arts Wisconsin has already sent invitations to all legislators, but a constituent’s invitation is much more effective!  Let the aide know that you will be able to meet the legislator at the Breakfast and sit with them during the event.
    — to set up a 15-minute appointment anytime during the day to speak to the legislator directly about what’s happening with the arts, arts education and creative economy in his/her district.  If you are able to talk with the legislator during the Breakfast, you probably don’t need to schedule a separate meeting, although stopping by the office to say hello to the staff will help build relationships and reinforce your message.
  • If there will be more than one person attending the meeting, let the aide know.
  • If the legislator is not able to attend the Breakfast or have a separate meeting on March 11, let the aide know that you will drop off a packet of information about your work sometime during Arts Day.

Visiting Your Legislator
Know your issue

  • Have three or four key points clear in your mind. Writing them out beforehand will help.  Click here for information about the Creative Economy Development Initiative.
  • Research your legislator’s positions on your issues. If you know how s/he stands on the issue, it will be easier to frame your arguments.
  • If available, bring along information (i.e. fact sheets) that will help you make your points. Take advantage of the short time you have to spend with a legislator.  Arts Wisconsin will provide a summary of the Creative Economy Development Initiative for you to give to your legislator.

Logistics

  • Be on time. Legislators have tight schedules. If you cannot avoid being late, call the office to alert them.
  • Dress appropriately. Treat this meeting as any other that requires a professional appearance.
  • Have an agenda prepared. In most cases, the legislator has agreed to the meeting to hear your views. Use the time wisely and follow a clear agenda.
  • Be brief. You can expect 15-20 minutes. Usually, the legislator’s schedule does not allow for more time—so be concise.
  • Be sure to get your concerns on the table before engaging on small talk.
  • Send a follow up letter. Briefly restate your messages and thank the legislator for his/her time.

NOTE!  If the legislator and/or aide is not able to meet on Arts Day, it’s still worth stopping at the office to say hello and leave your business card or information sheet or packet.  That way they will know you made the effort to contact them and will be aware that you are an active constituent.