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Our Guide to Calling Your Representatives

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Thanks to Action Friday for developing this wonderful guide which we’ve modified for this blog post:

In the coming weeks and years you will be seeing a lot of requests to call your representatives about issues facing our country, including supporting the arts. If you’ve never called your representatives or are looking for tips on how to call them, this is the guide for you.


* Pick an issue. Right now, we’re encouraging people to call about the Republican plan to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

* Know that it’s FAST. It takes maybe 2 minutes to call one person, including the time it takes to find their phone number on this congressional contact list.

* Know that you don’t have to be persuasive. You are really just calling to put yourself on a tally that will be passed along to your representative. You don’t have to convince anyone and no one will try to argue with you.

* Know that calling is better than emailing. Email is much more likely to get lost in the deluge. When you talk to a staffer you know for sure that your opinion is being recorded.

* Find your reps’ numbers. Go to Committee of Seventy's website to find out who they are. Call their local lines when possible. Write down the numbers or save them as contacts so you don’t have to look them up every time.


* Start with an introduction. You can say: Hi my name is _____ and I’m a constituent of Rep./Sen. ____ calling about a concern I have. Be sure to say you are a constituent. They might ask for your zip code, so have that ready.

* Have a script. This is 100% the best way to keep you focused and calm. Find the Cultural Alliance script in support of the NEA, NEA, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting here.

 Say what you are comfortable saying. Remember, you are just calling to be counted.

* Expect their response. Most of the time they will just tell you they will pass on your concern. They might read a prepared statement in response. They might even say that your representative is not going to take action on the issue you brought up. What they WON’T do is argue with you or say, “what a stupid thing to be concerned about.”

* If necessary, reiterate your request. If they read a statement or say the representative will not take action, don’t get flustered. Just say, Once again, I’m calling on the Rep./Sen. to _____.  

* Thank the staffer and hang up. Remember that it is the staffer’s job to take hundreds of phone calls a day.


* Know that it gets easier. The more you call, the more you know what to expect. You may even get to know some staffers.

Encourage others to get involved. Tell them to sign up for AFTA’s Arts Action Fund updates and to sign up for alerts from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.