Organizing for the Arts (O4A)

May 6, 2024
The logo for the "Organizing for the Arts" initiative featuring a blue "O" in line with the number "4" and the letter "A" in red, underneath of which is written "Organizing for the arts" with a swooped black underline and three black short lines after the word "arts" like noise coming out of a megaphone for a loud announcement.

4A Arts is excited to announce…

its new grassroots arts advocacy organizing initiative called “Organizing for the Arts” (O4A). Launched in the winter of 2024, O4A seeks to build out vast teams of citizens to support the efforts of state arts advocacy organizations across the country. 


State arts advocacy organizations exist in most states. Separate from the official governmental agency (like the state arts council or commission), these heroes serve many supporting roles for cultural institutions across their states, and are often the primary leader calling for funding for the arts council from state legislatures. Unfortunately, most of these organizations have a single employee. Some are even staffed entirely by volunteers. Because they are so underfunded and under-resourced, they often face a lack of bandwidth for consistent direct outreach, and usually focus on outreach and organizing of the cultural institutions themselves, not the general public. 


Let us state clearly…

that these state arts advocacy organizations are primarily responsible for state arts funding, yet they’re lucky to have a single employee. No wonder state arts funding is always an uphill battle. And truthfully, we arts advocates haven’t always done the best job of “telling our story” to individual citizens. There is a significant gap in understanding about the way our arts organizations operate, and the challenges they face. So just think of the potential impact of gathering concerned citizens in each state who are engaging with the advocacy organizations to demand more support from elected officials. We know the power of constituent contact surrounding an issue in our representative democracy – what’s missing is a program to reach out and organize individual citizens at a grassroots level!


So we at 4A Arts have launched O4A…

in pursuit of our mission to build greater numbers of citizen advocates demanding more for the arts in each state. We aim to accomplish our goals through strategic communications, informative and educational research touting the need for creativity in everyday lives, social media marketing efforts, and old-fashioned grassroots outreach to institutions, their boards, and their audiences. And each state advocacy organization with whom we partner has a tremendous impact on building the program for future partners, as well – as we’re already learning so much through each campaign, and applying that knowledge. 


Please join us as we embark on this grassroots organizing effort for American arts, culture, design, and craft. This work is something we believe in, is necessary across the national arts advocacy landscape, and we know it is the path to making change in this country. But right now, it is kind of an “unfunded mandate” of ours. So we are seeking support from individuals and institutions to replicate and scale the work. Help us grow, won’t you? 


Support 4A Arts’ Mission by making a contribution

A headshot photo of Gavin Lodge, Executive Director for 4A Arts.

Written by

Gavin Lodge

Actor, entrepreneur, political strategist, and father of two, Gavin Lodge comes to 4A Arts with a unique perspective on arts and culture in America. A 20-year veteran of stage and screen, Gavin grew up in suburban Colorado and traversed the country in his work with political campaigns at the senate and presidential levels as well as touring for shows.

After studying international affairs and philosophy at the University of Colorado, he worked as a field organizer in the Iowa Caucus followed by the role of “body guy” to then-candidate Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State. Politics empowered him to move to New York City to pursue a performing career. Ultimately, he performed in multiple Broadway shows (including 42nd Street, Spamalot, and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) as well as regional theater, national tours and several network television appearances.

Though he was thrilled every time he stepped onto a theatrical or sound stage, Gavin was equally happy to take on leadership roles in his local union and later his kids’ PTA.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, Gavin jumped back into the political realm, working as a strategist for Bryson Gillette, a minority-owned PR firm focused on politics and public affairs. He also volunteered for Be an #ArtsHero, an arts advocacy movement blossoming during the first few months of the pandemic. During his time with Be an #ArtsHero, he was part of a team that successfully lobbied for a first-of-its-kind hearing on the creative economy in front of the House of Representatives Small Business Committee.

Gavin lives in rural Connecticut with his partner (a composer and orchestral conductor), his TikTok-dancing daughter (who is musically gifted in unparalleled ways) and his soccer-playing son who recently told him “Dad? I’m just not into concerts and theater stuff.” As he told his son, Gavin believes there is much more to American arts and culture than “concerts and theater stuff.” From the video games his son loves to play to low-rider paint jobs to streaming television series while sitting on the couch, Gavin sees American arts and culture as an inclusive, “big tent” spectrum where everyone is an artist and everyone is a member of an audience.


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