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We Tried A Virtual Day On The Hill: Here's What Happened

Tennesseans For The Arts Host State's First Ever Virtual Arts Advocacy Day

For two decades, Tennesseans for the Arts (TFTA) has held Arts Advocacy Day in Nashville during The General Assembly’s legislative session. As TFTA members understand, there is strength in numbers and our united advocacy sends a message to lawmakers the arts have an army in Tennessee. This year, the global COVID-19 pandemic created some say the least. As we worked to prepare for this year’s event, one challenge became abundantly clear. How do we stand together to make a legislative impact when we can’t actually get together?

Over the past year, we have all learned how important virtual spaces can be. More than any of us could have realized, these virtual connections can have a real and lasting impact just as much as any of our ‘real world’ interactions. The TFTA volunteer board, under the leadership of Parke Kennedy and with the help of part-time staff Dereama Sherrill and Molly Pratt, worked tirelessly to pivot, adjust, re-imagine a digital statewide advocacy effort.

Mobile view of 4 speakers at Tennesseans For the Arts 2021 Arts Advocacy Day.
Virtual Arts Advocacy Day in Tennessee

The first part of the plan was to provide an interactive workshop to virtually engage with arts advocates. “Telling Stories That Matter: Harnessing Your Storytelling Potential” was specially designed to train members in preparation for Arts Advocacy Day by teaching them how to use personal stories to illustrate why the arts matter and connect with their elected officials. Hosted by International Storytelling Center President, TFTA Board Member, and TEDx speaker, Kiran Singh Sirah, this event was crucial to the success of AAD21.

Hosting Virtual Arts Advocacy Day was the next step. Although we were not able to gather together at the capitol, this webinar created an opportunity for those who may not normally be able to make it to Nashville for our usual event. With over 300 attendees, we were exceedingly proud to gather such a significant group of arts advocates across Tennessee. Participants were able to hear about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts, challenges faced by arts organizations, Tennessee’s response to those challenges, and grantee success stories. We are so grateful for the level of participation that was given by TFTA Members for Arts Advocacy Day 2021.

Computer view of the new website for Tennesseans For the Arts premiered at Arts Advocacy Day 2021.
Tennesseans For the Arts New Website

Finally, the last step in the plan was launching the brand new, user-friendly TFTA website. The website aims to guide arts advocates in Tennessee to be an effective, strong, and unified voice to protect the arts across our state. So, please stay awhile and click around! If you aren’t a member, please consider joining! This happy, colorful site will provide you with tools, resources, and opportunities to support the effort. We hope that you will make the most of our new virtual space! And as always THANK YOU for your advocacy.


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