“You Need to be an Arts Advocate” – SAA Wins Video Contest

In conjunction with their 50th Anniversary, Americans for the Arts invited arts advocates to participate in a video contest in which contestants would express their answer to the question, “Why do the arts matter?” Of the many inspirational and creative submissions, TC’s own Student Advocates for the Arts has been honored as the winners of the over 18 category. The SAA’s video, “You Need to be an Arts Advocate,” focuses on empowering students of any age to be a voice for the arts, and reminds us that we all enjoy the benefits of art whether we create it ourselves or just enjoy the art that others create.

The video was made last year and spearheaded by SAA’s previous board and president, Jonathan Lewis. Their vision for the video was to bring together a variety of experts and practitioners to share their perspectives on the role that the arts play in education and in life, as well as discuss the importance of advocating for the arts. The video features a diverse group of advocates, students, and TC faculty members. Among them is Joan Jeffri, director of the Arts Administration program, who asserts, “The arts are what make us human, and they express our humanity.”

Layered with each contributor’s commentary are a series of clips that show students of all ages engaged in an array of visual and performing arts. The diversity of perspectives voiced, along with the richness of the images presented, make for a high quality, engrossing video. A NYC based production studio, Sweet Victory Entertainment, worked pro-bono with SAA and offered the technical expertise the project needed for it to come together. The high caliber of the video makes it easy to understand why it was chosen as the winner, and why it has since received many views and positive comments.

This year’s SAA president, Priya Sircar, hopes that the video will help serve as encouragement to students of any age to speak out and support the arts. It underlines the broader mission of the SAA, which is to expand the concept of what advocacy can be. While going to Albany or Washington DC to advocate at the legislative level is one aspect of arts advocacy and something SAA does every spring, not everyone is comfortable doing that, or knows how. Advocacy can happen at any level by simply being a voice for the arts.

One way in which SAA is attempting to spread this message beyond their award-winning video is through their blog, which is co-authored by former SAA president Jonathan Lewis and sitting president Priya Sircar. The blog seeks to use the message of their grassroots organization, focused on supporting and advocating for the arts, and share it with others in the hopes of inspiring more people to join the movement – just as SAA’s award winning video prompts viewers, “If you care deeply about the arts, about your right to think, speak, and read freely, you need to be an arts advocate.”