It’s vital for Australian arts organisations to proactively foster their government relations. But it can seem to take considerable time and effort: time and effort which could be spent on the thousand other things you have to do.

Here are 7 things any organisation can do to build stronger relationships with MPs, their advisers and departments. 60 well-planned minutes a week is a great investment that will make a difference when the chips are down.

1. Share your successes
Don’t leave contact with influencers until the time you want something. So often, organisations of all stripes descend on Canberra or state parliament when things are going wrong. Instead, make sure MPs and funders know about your victories as well as your struggles. For instance, a well-timed letter from your chairman, a collection of reviews, or quotes from audience members is a great start. Let policy makers know that public investment is an integral part of your success.

2. Share content
Send relevant photos, videos and links with a note saying thanks for the support that enabled this to happen. Suggest they post these on their electoral or ministerial web site.

3. Share creative resources
If you’ve invested in streaming, video on demand or other online resources – let people know. Write personal notes to your ministers, shadow ministers, MPs, staffers and funders. They will help you publicise these and ensure the greatest story reach possible. This can help create national access to your work and act as a powerful lever.

4. Never overlook your work in regional Australia
Be sure to publicise the work you’re doing in regional Australia. Workshops, performances or exhibitions outside of capital cities can and do change lives. They also change perceptions of our industry, so you need to make this widely known in funding circles.

5. Provide a platform
Invite the minister or your local member to help you launch your new season/program/exhibition/regional tour. Give them an opportunity to speak and remember to say thank you. In public.

6. Show – as well as tell
Invite MPs and advisers to see your education and outreach programs in action. Give them an opportunity to participate, speak and have some photos with students and teachers.

7. Say thank you
Have we mentioned saying thank you? Say thank you. Say it publicly. In the same way sponsorship is more than a logo in a program, so is the investment of taxpayers in our sector. We need to say thank you and highlight what we have achieved as a result of their support.

And remember, if they don’t now about it – it hasn’t happened!

Communicating clearly, consistently, and telling your stories through valuable content are key to effective Government relations and advocacy in the arts.

If you’d like to talk about how these seven steps could be implemented by your organisation, contact us.

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