Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Inspired to Make Trouble

Inspired To Get In Trouble

John Lewis http://johnlewis.house.gov inspired over 300 advocates this morning, prior to visiting their representatives in the U.S. Congress in the first Museum Advocacy Day. Yesterday, we were schooled in the fine art of advocacy by Washington’s best, led by AAM’s own Gail Ravnitzky Silberglied.

The clear message, laid out on AAM’s website http://www.speakupformuseums.org is increased funds for and reauthorization of IMLS, museums as educators and economic engines. Delegates were also encouraged to ask their senators why they voted the way they did on the Coburn amendment to the federal stimulus package.

This amendment, which excluded museums from competing for stimulus funds, passed the senate 72 to 23, stunning the museum community and raising a nationwide response. The amendment changed in conference but aquarium and zoos are still prohibited from competing for these funds.

John Lewis’ penetrating gaze and inspiring words reminded us that 535 people come daily to the U.S. Capitol to create a more perfect union and to strive toward democratic ideals. We in museums, he insisted, have an obligation, a mission and a mandate, to make our work enlightening, to uplift, and to get in the way of injustice for the nation’s citizens and for generations to come.

For my part, I'm hangin' with the Pennsylvania delegation (my home state) and with folks from the District. Today is a banner day for us in DC as the Senate votes on giving the citizens of the District of Columbia an actual vote in the House of Representatives. Washingtion is almost too exciting these days!

AAM deserves a big helping of thanks for their work to make this happen for us today. My dream is that someday we'll need to rent the convention center for our advocacy training. Can you imagine what we could do if we had 4000 adament museum people, many of them board members, on the Hill, speaking on behalf of the cultural infrastructure in this country?