Student Spotlight: Bri Hopkins

Senior theatre and arts administration major, Bri Hopkins, recently traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for the arts. We did a quick interview to learn more about arts advocacy and her experience!

How were you able to have the opportunity to advocate in D.C.?

I was doing a research paper for an Arts Administration class and my topic was Americans for the Arts. During my research I discovered the Arts Advocacy Day and their special student opportunity. I was only going to be a student for one more semester and this was an opportunity of a life time for me. So I worked really hard and made it happen.

What was the goal of your trip to D.C.?

My goal on this D.C trip was to learn as much as I could and make as many connections as possible. Every moment was a learning experience for me whether I was talking to an executive director of a state arts agencies or taking notes during a lecture from the National Endowment for the Arts. I wanted to soak up as much as I could to become a more well-rounded arts advocate.

This is your first time advocating for the arts at a national level, tell us more about your experience. What did you learn? Any obstacles to overcome?

What did I learn

  • There are not just artists or members of arts nonprofits who go to advocate for the arts. I met doctors, business men and women, scientists, a lot of different people! Even though they are not artists, or actors, dancers, the arts still play a role in their life that inspires them to make a trip to D.C and advocate for it.
  • The bigger picture of what federal legislation will have on arts and arts education throughout the nation
  • One of the most important thing I learned on this trip was how to communicate with different people from different backgrounds.

Obstacles

  • Getting over the idea that my voice was too small to make a difference. Walking up to capitol hill I was like “What on earth am I going to say that will be important enough for a person of congress to hear” and through the conference I learned anything I say is important for a person of congress to hear. My experiences, the facts about arts and the community, my story of how the arts are vital to a community, all of these things are important for a congressman to know. So getting over the idea that my voice was too small to make a difference was definitely an obstacle for me to get over.

What makes you passionate about arts advocacy?

The arts are about more than just going to an gallery exhibition or seeing a dance performance. Art is therapy for veterans, the elderly, people who are struggling with illness. Art is business and entrepreneurship that create a dynamic economy. Art is an instrument of expression for a community to tell the world who they are and take pride in it.

This is why I am passionate about Arts advocacy because there is so much potential in what the arts can give to the community and I want to get the word out.

Do you plan to continue with arts advocacy in your future?

Arts Advocacy is something that can easily be done every day just by talking to other people. I think a lot of people think arts advocacy is this huge effort of going to a government building and speaking in front of all these important people, but that is only a part of advocacy. Arts advocacy is about educating people about the benefits the arts can have on a community. So just talking to a person and having a conversation about the arts is arts advocacy.

But yes, going to Washington D.C and taking up proactive advocacy opportunities is definitely something that I want to keep as a strong part of my future. One day I would love to work for American’s for the Arts and make advocacy a full time job for myself.