The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) annually awards the Legislator Leadership Award for Arts Education to a legislator who has demonstrated public leadership in support of theatre and other arts education policy and practice on a national or state level.
This year’s recipient is Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21), who accepted the award at EdTA’s Theatre Education Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., July 16.
The award was created to demonstrate and support the association’s ongoing and growing national and state advocacy efforts on behalf of theatre and other arts education. Legislators are considered based on specific actions and outcomes that have demonstrated their leadership in support of theatre and other arts education policy and practice on a national or state level.
Rep. Stefanik is being recognized for her commitment to supporting arts education, including service as co-chair of the Congressional STEAM Caucus since 2015 with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon); co-chairman of the Congressional Arts Caucus, the leading congressional advocacy group on behalf of the arts and humanities, in 2019; and a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. She was instrumental in a successful push for the K-12 reauthorization that expanded STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Math) to STEAM (to include arts and design). She is also known for her consistent support for the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities.
Rep. Stefanik says, “The arts were a very important part of my childhood, my education, and my life and I take my personal passion with me as an advocate for arts education.”
Her district is the Adirondack area of New York state, north of Albany to the Canadian border, giving her a distinct perspective in a field that is usually associated with urban centers.
Rep. Stefanik believes that arts are vital to rural communities. “I am a strong believer in the importance of the arts to the economic health of communities and the economy overall when we make an investment in the arts,” she says.
EdTA Executive Director Julie Cohen Theobald presented the award. “Rep. Stefanik is an example of a legislator who is a stalwart advocate for the humanities, arts, and theatre education, and her leadership and influence on policy at the federal level is of vital importance,” Theobald says. “We are thrilled and honored to present this award to her.”