Americans for the Arts and NAMM Advocate for Arts Support at National Political Conventions

Award-winning Artists Unite with Politicians, Arts Leaders, Philanthropists to Discuss the Importance of Arts Education and the Presidential Election

August 20, 2008

Americans for the Arts Action Fund, in conjunction with NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants, announced today it will host two events at the national political conventions designed to encourage support for and awareness of the importance of arts and arts education. Both events are part of ArtsVote2008, a national initiative created by the Americans for the Arts Action Fund to promote the arts during the presidential election. Americans for the Arts Action Fund is the nation’s only grassroots advocacy organization committed to ensure that candidates for public office adopt thoughtful arts policies.

GRAMMY Award-winning musician John Legend will headline a panel of elected leaders, advocates, and philanthropists discussing the future of the arts and arts education in America on August 26 at the Democratic National Convention. Former U.S. Secretary of Education and former Governor of South Carolina Richard Riley will moderate the discussion that also features: Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors; philanthropist Sheila C. Johnson; Americans for the Arts Action Fund President and CEO Robert L. Lynch, and NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond.

On September 2 at the Republican National Convention, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will moderate a discussion on the future of the arts and arts education in America among featured speakers, including Emmy award-winning actor, dancer, choreographer and director Debbie Allen; Missouri Governor Matt Blunt; Chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities Adair Margo; U.S Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas); Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne; and Robert L. Lynch.

Launched in November 2007, ArtsVote2008 has had great success in raising the arts as a vital campaign topic.  During the presidential primary season, the group issued a Pro-Arts Policy Brief addressing how the arts can be a catalyst in arts education, economic development, healthcare, transportation and other areas, and procured public arts policy statements in support of the arts from an unprecedented six primary candidates.

“It is essential that voters are aware of the importance of the arts, as part of this presidential election process,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts Action Fund.  “Not only does art fuel innovation in our workforce and boost the economy, it is a powerful generator of the human spirit.  It is crucial that the next administration embrace the arts as a key part of their vision for America.”

“Elections are about the future and we want to make sure that future includes access to music and the arts for every child in America,” said Joe Lamond, president and CEO, NAMM.

To encourage further awareness of the importance of the arts during the presidential election, Americans for the Arts Action Fund has commissioned an original, limited edition poster from American artist John Baldessari. The poster features repeated images of ears, imploring voters and elected officials to: “Listen. Reflect. Choose. Vote.” The work will be made available at the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

“This poster serves as a call to action,” said John Baldessari. “The message is for both the voters and the politicians: take time to listen and reflect on the issues and make your voice heard this election year.”

“This image on the poster shows that art speaks volumes. It not only reflects the principles of the nation’s electoral process but our position and cause as well,” stated Lynch. “We are eager for our message to be heard but even more eager to hear how each presidential candidate will incorporate the arts and arts education in their vision of America.”

For more information on ArtsVote2008, visit