03/14/2012 10:45 am ET Updated May 14, 2012

Today Is D.C. Arts Advocacy Day

D.C. Arts Advocacy Day is today, March 14th, and Rob Bettman, Executive Director for the D.C. Advocates for the Arts, has organized quite a movement; bringing artists, arts organizations and groups, and patrons of the arts together to directly lobby D.C.'s mayor and council members for increased arts funding in the 2013 D.C. budget.

Bettman and his D.C. Arts Advocacy Day 2012 "Partner Group" have compiled data that tell a tale of horrifically drastic D.C. government divestment from the city's vibrant arts scene and supporting arts economy. The numbers show that between 2009 and 2012 the D.C. government's official arts agency, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, had its budget slashed almost 70% from $13,018,000 in 2009, to $3,920,000 in 2012.

"This is unacceptable," says Bettman. "As a percentage of the FY 12 budget, this year's funding for the arts is less than one half of one percent, 0.034%, of the D.C. budget. The mayor is making his budget for next year right now, and we want him to increase the FY 13 budget for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to $10,000,000."

So today, Bettman and the D.C. Arts Advocacy Day Partner Group* have put together an action plan that encourages the arts community to become empowered and take action. At City Hall, there is an active schedule of meetings between Arts Advocacy Day "Teams" and elected city leaders. There is a noon-time rally on the steps of the Wilson Building where musicians, poets and other artists will gather to speak on funding issues to the public and press. That's the "inside" game...

The "outside" game involves YOU, Chocolate City! While the inside hustle is taking place today, here is what the organizers and participants on the ground at D.C. Arts Advocacy Day would very much appreciate from the rest of us.

Sign the Petition: Until March 23, 2012, sign the arts petition to Mayor Gray

By Email or Phone: Email or call Mayor Vincent Gray and tell him you want $10 million for the arts in FY13. Make a call or send an email after you sign the petition.

Twitter & Facebook: DCAA wants you to let your networks know that you support $10 million for the arts in D.C. by posting on these and other social mediums. Sample message: "Join me (or us) to support the @DCArtsup campaign to increase arts in #dcfy13:"
To learn more about DC Arts Advocacy Day and the DC Advocates for the Arts visit

*DC Arts Advocacy Day Partner Group includes: DC Film Alliance, Busboys and Poets, Split This Rock, Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, the Smith Center for the Healing Arts, the Humanities Council of Washington DC, Warehouse DC, Pinkline Project, the Washington Bach Consort, the Arts Club of Washington, Grasshop, the Sunlight Foundation, and the Institute for Policy Studies.