By Amanda Saucedo, Ensemble Español
Attending Arts Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. almost felt like a dream. Even as I was telling people I was going, it didn’t fully register with me. Most of the people I told knew very little—if anything—about the Americans for the Arts’ annual event. When I told my nine year old dance students that I would be going to the Nation’s Capitol the next week, their eyes grew big. They eagerly asked questions about what I would be doing “out there.” One of them suggested a few not-so-encouraging words I could share with the President. At that moment, I very clearly understood why I was going to D.C. Yes, I wanted to raise awareness; but most importantly, I was going for the future of arts in education, and to give a voice to my students.
I had a difficult upbringing, and can safely say that I did not see myself traveling to D.C. as an advocate at the age of 25. The Illinois team was filled with positivity, and I felt supported and confident as we met with elected officials and their staffs. It was so empowering to be meeting with the country’s decision-makers where we tend not to have a voice.
I even met a group of artists who wanted to do a bit of arts collaborating at the White House. We represented dance and spoken word, and talked to strangers about arts advocacy. It was amazing to be in D.C. for such a short period of time and still feel that we had made a huge difference.
I am beyond grateful for the experience Ingenuity provided me. Not only was I able to meet a diverse group of people passionate about the arts, I was able to find my advocacy voice on Capitol Hill.
I arrived back in Chicago with a million thoughts in my head. How do we keep the arts alive every second of the day? What should I tell my students? How can I advocate for the arts as a dancer? But the most important question had to be, “now what?”
As soon as I got home, I told myself to keep art alive within myself every single day; whether I dance to the bus stop, sing a song, or write. This trip definitely rejuvenated my spirit and I couldn’t wait to share with the dancers.
Back at the studio, I showed them pictures and videos. The arts community of over 700 people in D.C. had inspired me, and was now inspiring them.
I incorporate themes in the choreographies I teach each day, and decided that our theme that day would be “community.” They were so excited; smiling and laughing. I explained that even though there were just a few of us in the studio, we were not alone. “Out there,” people are advocating for the arts, and we can do our part by keeping the arts and humanity alive everywhere we go.
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