As part of an on-going speaker series sponsored by the Arts Administration Graduate Association, we were delighted to hear from last night’s speaker Ron Cowell, former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and current president of The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) in Harrisburg, PA. Mr. Cowell spoke about his current work with the EPLC and gave first year students advice and pointers on being successful advocates as we embark on our first Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.Mr. Cowell’s current work at the EPLC centers around improving education policies in Pennsylvania for grades P-12 as well as increasing the operations of schools and enhancing educational opportunities for all ages. In March Mr. Cowell and his colleagues published a report deliberately titled “Creating Pennsylvania’s Future Through the Arts and Education” so they could take a look at the ways and places that arts and education intersect in all institutions. The report, which has over 40 recommendations for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has received a positive response creating a huge buzz in newspapers, radio, and other publications.
To read the EPLC’s full report click the link: Creating Pennsylvania's Future Through the Arts and Education
With Arts Advocacy Day right around the corner we were delighted to hear some wisdom from Mr. Cowell on being successful arts advocates. Mr. Cowell said one of the most important things to remember is that it’s all about relationships. Good chemistry with a person leads to long relationships, which gives you a person to go to in the future! He also reminded us that we should know our issues and to not be intimidated. In most situations it is your job to advise the staff person so they can digest the information for their boss. Mr. Cowell also reminded us to not leave the office without asking for something, this makes that person accountable whether it’s a speech, campus lecture, or co-sponsoring a bill. He also reminded us to always leave something behind, a book may be too long but a business card or organizational pamphlet will do the job! A final piece of advice he told us was to know everything about that lawmaker. It’s an easy way to start a conversation and draw parallels to what you are there speaking about.
Mr. Cowell’s background in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and knowledge he imparted on us last night was extremely insightful and helped us immensely before taking on Washington, D.C. in the coming weeks. So with his wisdom in our back pocket it’s our job now to “go forth and advocate.”
This post was written by Eric Colton.