Back in February, I received an exciting call from Jim Palmarini, who
told me that I had won the Educational Theatre Association’s nationwide
Democracyworks essay contest. As a result, I would have the chance to
deliver my essay at Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.
My trip to Washington, D.C., this March was the thrill of a lifetime.
A highlight of the trip was lobbying on Capitol Hill for a cause that
means so much to me, arts education. It was both fun and educational to
enter the Senate and the House of Representatives to explain the
importance of the arts. While I was missing my government class in
school, I was witnessing government in action in our nation’s capitol!
So many other aspects of National Arts Advocacy Day were equally
exhilarating – from talking to other arts advocates, to learning about
the issues, to listening to Maureen Dowd’s incredible lecture at the
Kennedy Center, to hearing from members of Congress who support the
arts, to meeting Alec Baldwin.
One of the best parts of my experience was reading my essay to the
general assembly. In my speech, I explained that I wrote a children’s
book, Once Upon a Masterpiece: An Art History Adventure, to
introduce underprivileged children to the magic of art history. Thanks
to a grant and a donation, I have donated my children’s book to
elementary schools in the Philadelphia School District, where a
financial crisis has put the arts on the chopping block, and the Detroit
Institute of Arts, which may be forced to sell off its art collection
to bail Detroit out of bankruptcy.
To my delight, the attendees at Arts Advocacy Day were incredibly
supportive of my efforts. Many individuals generously donated $10 in
exchange for a copy of Once Upon a Masterpiece; I will use the donations to give more books to more children in need.
Thank you so much to Jim Palmarini, Julie Woffington, and everyone
else at the Educational Theatre Association! I am grateful and humbled
to have won the Democracyworks contest and to have had the opportunity
to participate in Arts Advocacy Day. The memories of my spectacular trip
and the many wonderful people I met will motivate me to continue to
advocate for the arts.