Information for Arts Advocates




Arts for LA encourages all arts supporters to attend candidate forums, whether they're for local neighborhood councils, school boards, or city government elections. Not only is it a great opportunity for all citizens to participate in the democratic process, but it's also an effective way to let your candidates know about the issues, concerns, and challenges you care about.

Most candidate forums begin with a moderated discussion where the candidates are asked a series of pre-prepared questions. These usually address the election's "big ticket" items and allow candidates to showcase their platform positions.

After the moderated discussion, the forum often opens up to allow for audience questions. Usually, these questions are collected on index cards during the moderated session. The cards are then handed to the moderator, who chooses additional questions to ask the candidates. Alternatively, a microphone can be passed through the audience or held by a volunteer, or a line will form in front of a standing microphone.

A few ground rules for participation in candidate forums:
  • BE CONCISE. This is not "public comment" or a chance for you to complain about policies you don't like. Write down your question and state it clearly and succinctly.
  • BE RESPECTFUL. Avoid questions that require knowledge the candidates may not have, such as asking about a specific issue within a small community ("What do you think about Organization X having to close its doors last year?") or attack questions ("You've never been to a play in our city. How can you represent us if you don't care about the arts?"). Embarrassing or angering a candidate will not promote a good working relationship.
  • SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE. If you're a resident, parent, business owner, or if you're new to the area, that gives you a certain lens that other constituents might not have. You'll engage a candidate by letting him or her know who you are and why you care ("I have two kids at Garfield Middle School, and I'm concerned about the lack of band and choir electives. I'm an avid guitarist and believe arts education is an essential part of learning. Can you talk about your position on arts education in our city?"). 
  • ACTUALLY ASK A QUESTION. If you want to air a grievance or give a candidate information, you can contact their campaign or speak to them after the forum. During the question portion of the forum, however, you should only speak if you genuinely want to hear both candidates' responses to a specific question.
  • DO YOUR RESEARCH. Investigate whether a candidate has an arts and cultural policy or has made public statements on the arts or arts education.





A city’s cultural policy refers to “government actions, laws, and programs that regulate, protect, encourage, and financially support activities related to the arts and creative sectors, such as painting, sculpture, music, dance, literature, and filmmaking, among others and culture, which may involve activities related to language, heritage and diversity.”

Study after study has shown that cities/ municipalities that adopt culture as an industry have gained positive economic benefits for their communities by creating interconnections between arts and business.

Arts and culture-based businesses and organizations:

  • Provide direct economic benefits
  • Create job growth in the cultural sector, expanding the sector as a whole
  • Improve the ability of urban centers to attract skilled workers
  • Spawn “spin-off” businesses, fortifying and diversifying the original initiatives’ strengths
  • Help foster creative cities and communities
  • Promote and enhance cultural development
  • Help a community distinguish itself based on strong identities, cultures, arts and crafts, etc.
  • Help a community gain a competitive advantage as a “destination city” for cultural tourism
  • Can lead to subsequent economic regeneration through urban revitalization1

In Los Angeles County:

The creative industries make a significant contribution to employment and economic growth in the Los Angeles region. They also foster innovation and encourage spillover effects that create opportunities for other industries. The region’s creative industries help move the economy forward by attracting investment, tourism, consumer spending, and by generating tax revenues. In our postindustrial society, activities based on creativity and culture is an essential component of a robust economy.2

  • ONE out of SEVEN jobs is generated by/ linked to the creative industries
  • Creative industries generate 792,600 JOBS and $59.6 BILLION in labor income
  • 457,600 WORKERS are employed directly in creative occupations
  • Out of 76 creative occupations, 69 pay a median annual wage greater than the countywide median ($38,224)2



Arts education plays a key role in producing citizens that are creative, intelligent, and civically engaged.

While many private schools do include the arts in curriculum, studies confirm that students in high poverty areas have less access to the arts in school than their peers.³ For all LA County students to benefit from arts learning and gain access to jobs in the creative economy, arts instruction must be provided as a core component of public education.

Quality arts education enables students to be successful not only in their academic careers, but also later in life. The benefits of a quality, arts-based education include lower dropout rates for students from low-income neighborhoods, higher levels of college acceptance, and increased political and community engagement after graduation. Arts-based teaching strategies are also particularly effective with English language learners.4

Students with strong arts education are also better prepared for careers in the creative economy.



  1. Culture as an Economic Engine, Creative City Network of Canada
  2. 2018 Otis Report on the Creative Economy Otis College of Art and Design, 2018
  3. Arts for All School Arts Survey: Measuring Quality, Access and Equity in Arts Education. Waldorf, Lynn and Atwill, Kim. Arts for All, 2011
  4. Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art. James S. Catterall. Imagination Group/I-Group Books, 2009.
  5. CHECK TO SEE if your school district is part of the LA County Arts Commission's Arts Ed Collective




Our goal is to foster respectful, nonpartisan dialogue about issues relating to arts and culture. If you plan to attend a candidate forum in your community, be sure to ask or submit a written question that will get candidates thinking and talking about their vision for the arts and culture landscape of your community.




Demonstrate your #ArtsVote power

After you attend the forum, be sure tell us about your experience at [email protected] and demonstrate our collective #ArtsVote power on social media by tagging @arts4la on Instagram and Twitter and using the hashtags:




If you know of a candidate forum for the fall 2018 elections, please notify us using the form below so we can add the information to our calendar and let other Arts Advocates know!



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