Ready to advocate for theatre education? Follow these tips and tactics to engage at all levels.
In the rapidly changing landscape of education, it’s often important to frame your local and state-based advocacy with a big-picture perspective. Issues and policy decisions made at the federal level can have a direct impact on what happens in your state, district, and even in your theatre program. Knowing and stating that your national arts education organization is invested in important efforts in support of arts educators and students can help strengthen your advocacy position and creditability.
- Guide to ESSA
- Guide to ESSER
- Guide to Title IV-A
- Americans for the Arts: 2021 Congressional Handbook
- Find your legislators
EdTA’s chapters — affiliate groups that deliver our mission locally — provide a foundation for strong advocacy in your state or province.
- Download the EdTA Statement of Educator Support letter and be prepared to use it if you, your district, or state is facing a challenge to theatre education.
- Reach out to your chapter director to help organize a coordinated theatre action advocacy plan.
- Find out if your state is represented on EdTA’s Advocacy Leadership Network; if not, consider applying or recommending another member from your state.
- Know who your state senator and house representative is (look yours up).
- Find out when these bodies are meeting and what bills are pending.
- Look into who sits on the education committee (if there is one) and whether or not legislation is pending that could impact arts education in your state.
- Learn whether or not your state has an annual arts advocacy day and begin planning how you and your peers — both students and adults — can participate.
State advocacy in action
Learn how West Virginia Thespians landed a $10,000 annual grant from the state legislature to help send their Chapter Select show to the International Thespian Festival.
- Arts Education Partnership (AEP) provides a searchable state arts education policy database that tracks the latest information on state policies that support learning and teaching in the arts.
- State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE) made up of the state education agency representatives responsible for public arts education in their states.
- National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) unites, represents, and serves the nation’s state arts agencies. Each of the 50 states has created an agency to support excellence in and access to the arts.
- The Council of Chief State School Officers is nationwide nonprofit organization of state school superintendents.
Most decisions about theatre in the school curriculum are made at the local level by principals, superintendents, and school boards.
- Establish a positive and open communication channel with your school administrators.
- Make a point to learn when your school board meets and who its members are.
- Find out who the local decision makers are and reach out to them: the mayor, district school superintendent, city council, chamber of commerce, superintendent, etc.
- Build a network of supporters that you can call on when there is a need for quick action.
- Teachers: Contact other troupe directors in your district to help organize a long-term theatre education advocacy strategy.
- Students: Participate in the Theatre in Our Schools (TIOS) campaign, an effort to promote awareness of theatre education’s value and purpose culminating in March, and encourage your fellow Thespians to do the same.
- Community members: Attend school board meetings and request to get on the agenda. Use the materials below to advocate for starting or growing a theatre program.
- Quick guides and handouts about theatre and the arts
- Letter-writing template for creating a statement supporting a theatre program
- Advocacy Game for practicing presentation skills
- Freedom of Expression statement supporting teachers in play selection
- Arts Education Is Essential statement
- Arts ARE Education Action Center