I'm home early from Tallahassee after attending a dinner and informational networking session with the Florida Association of Local Arts Agencies. Michael and I have too much work to stay longer even though that was the original plan. I'm one artist blessed to be busy but it's tempting to get involved in the political arena of lobbying and fund-raising.
I attended as an observer. Michael represented the Ocala Municipal Arts Commission. We met representatives of various arts councils and agencies from several different counties. The ideas flowed. We also heard from two lobbyists, a couple of senators including Gwen Margolis, freshman representative Will Weatherford, and the executive chairwoman of the Florida Arts Council, Katharine Dickenson. The keynote speaker was Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning who loves and supports the arts. Sherron Long, the Chief Operating Officer of FALAA is a true dynamo and passionately involved in all causes art-related. What an inspiration to be in attendance with all these advocates for us artists!
My impressions are modestly humble. The experience was fascinating on all levels. Overall, everyone loves the arts until it's time to financially support them. The Florida House of Representatives would like to slash the arts budget, the Senate would leave the funding status quo. Michael is empowered by information to help the local arts groups and Sherron Long most graciously offered to personally help him. We must all be united on a local level to promote strength, respect and power in numbers.