Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chatting with my Congressman

I posted this to the Philadelphia Dance Listserv on 7/15. It's relevant even if you don't live in Pennsylvania, being about how to work our representative democracy.

Dear Dance Colleagues,

Yesterday at the State Capitol following the thunderous rally in support of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (threatened now with elimination) I went to visit my legislative representatives. At the office of Mike Gerber (Montgomery County) I had a chat with his assistant, and then, surprisingly, a long one with him!

The take away is that YOUR INDIVIDUAL CONTACT WITH YOUR LEGISLATORS MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE! There is no substitute for a significant number of individuals approaching our lawmakers one by one through mail, email or phone. For all issues under consideration Gerber’s assistant keeps a tally of calls, emails and letters. Gerber reads only a small sampling. WHAT’S CRUCIAL ARE THE NUMBERS.

By yesterday, Gerber had received a total of fewer than 40 phone calls, emails and letters in the current round of proposed elimination of state arts funding. He said that if he had high numbers of communications from concerned citizens he could go to the Republican Senator from our district who, along with most in his party, is intent on draconian cuts and say “What about these constituents of ours? Can you afford to ignore them?” If more of us go on record as being willing to pay a little more in taxes to pay for the things that make ours a humane and civilized society, a saner budget stands a chance. If we don’t, the reps take that to mean we will not stomach any new taxes, and funding for PCA and many other vital services will be lost.

PA is the only state considering complete elimination of its arts council. PLEASE write and call your own state senator and representative TODAY and tell them that you consider supporting the arts an essential part of government and that you are willing to pay a little more to make that possible. (You can locate contact info for your district at http://www.legis.state.pa.us/)

Thank you!

Lisa Kraus