March 5th is National Arts Advocacy Day! 4 Ways for Youth to Advocate PLUS 3 Self-Portrait Project Ideas

Arts Advocacy Day is a day when Arts advocates from across the country meet with their Members of Congress to garner support for the Arts. This day is used as an opportunity to share how the Arts are impacting our lives and the lives of the young people we serve. While today is Arts Advocacy Day, Boys & Girls Clubs is celebrating all of March as Arts Advocacy Month!


Our Clubs have a strong commitment to the Arts. Many Clubs dedicate staff, funding, facilities, time, and more to provide excellent Arts programming to members. In 2017, 58% of Clubs reported having space dedicated Arts programming and 54% reported having full- or part-time arts staff. Boys & Girls Clubs are a great place to expose youth to the Arts!

Research shows that involvement in the Arts facilitates the development of cognitive and social-emotional skills necessary for learning. Engagement in the Arts also promotes several positive outcomes such as increases in high school academic performance, college-going rates, college academic performance, and employability.


Arts Advocacy Month is a great opportunity to speak with your youth about the importance of advocacy, and to share their thoughts on the Arts with congressional leaders! Not sure who your legislators are? Click here to find contact information for your Senators, and Click here for your Representatives. Also consider contacting your State and local legislators as well. Here are some fun ways to allow your youth’s voices to be heard:

Write a letter. Encourage youth to write about how the Arts is making a positive impact on their lives. Encourage them to share a story of a great Arts experience they have had and mail the letters into their congressional leaders.

Make a video. Ask youth to think about what inspires them most in the Arts, then challenge them to create a video. The video could be interview, vlog, or documentary style. Discuss these options and allow youth to determine how to express themselves. Share the videos via email or social media with their congressional leaders.

Start a social media storm. Encourage youth, parents, guardians, and staff at your Club to send tweets to their congressional leaders using the hashtag #ArtsAdvocacy.  Explore ideas such as: “How the Arts has impacted your life” or “My favorite thing about the Arts is…”

Showcase “The Face of Art” in your community. Complete a self-portrait project with your members and display them in your Club or community.  Reach out to your local library, coffee shops, or airport to see if you can display “The Face of Art” as part of Arts Advocacy Aonth. Send an invitation to your exhibit to your congressional representative, or send them pictures of the display! Here are a few great self-portrait activities to try with your members:

  • Pop-Art Portraits: Learn about Artist Roy Lichtenstein and create Pop-Art Portraits.


  • Collage Portraits: This collage activity is a great low-cost project that can be completed in one session.


  • Cubism Self-Portraits: Explore oil pastels and collage techniques with this cubist portrait project inspired by the work of Picasso.


We want to read, hear, and see all of the amazing things you are doing in your Club to advocate for high-quality arts programming. Whether you have a daily fine arts program, are facilitating a high-quality culinary arts program, or integrating arts across the Club day outside of the art room, share your story by following this link: We are so excited to learn from you, and you may even be featured in an upcoming ClubX Blog post!


How do you encourage staff and youth to advocate for the Arts? What are other ways you’ve empowered youth to speak out about the things they care about? Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email to share!


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