October 2020 Member Briefing: Arts Leaders Get Out the Vote

Recorded On: 10/20/2020

 image 2020 Member Briefings

October 2020 Member Briefing

October 20, 2020 at 3:00 PM EST

About the Member Briefing

As the 2020 election gets closer, and many voters are already voting by mail or in-person, arts organizations around the country are doing their part to help voters ensure their vote counts. This election is crucial to electing leaders at each level of government who will ensure that funding for the arts is protected and accessible for all. In this month’s member briefing, Americans for the Arts members from Minnesota Citizens for the Arts and Arts North Carolina will discuss using the arts to get out the vote and share their experiences of conducting voter outreach in their communities.


  • Sheila M. Smith, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts
  • Nate McGaha, Executive Director of Arts North Carolina

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn more about what each member organization has done to promote voter turnout in their community
  • Learn the challenges and best practices these organizations discovered when conducting voter outreach
  • Learn what arts leaders can do now to encourage voting in their communities as the election draws closer

Member Briefings are our quarterly opportunity to talk to you about what’s happening now! These calls will take place once a quarter, so mark your calendars to stay up-to-date on what’s happening at Americans for the Arts and across the sector. These calls are for you, so let us know if there’s a topic you’d like to know more about by contacting membership at membership@artsusa.org.

We firmly believe that our #AFTAmember network is one of our strongest resources, so after our update, we’ll open the floor up to your questions, comments, recommendations, and lessons learned – we hope you’ll take advantage of each other’s expertise!

Sheila Smith

Executive Director, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts

Sheila M. Smith is the Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts which strengthens our cultural community by achieving arts friendly policy in Minnesota artsMN.org. As Chair of the Creative Minnesota Project, she produces important research about the arts and cultural community for education, policy making, and advocacy CreativeMN.org.

She led the arts community into the successful 2008 statewide “Legacy” ballot campaign which created 25 years of dedicated funding for the arts through a constitutional amendment. She also served on the Board of the 2012 Minnesota United campaign, protecting the rights of all Minnesotans to marry, and served as staff in the Minnesota Senate.

A national expert in arts advocacy, Smith is a frequent speaker at conferences around the country including Grantmakers in the Arts and the Rural Arts Summit and has won several national awards for her work. She has served as Chair of AFTA’s State Arts Action League and Vice-Chair of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

Smith has a BA in Shakespeare and a graduate degree from St. Mary’s in Arts Administration. She also teaches at the University of Minnesota about the intersection of arts and politics. Check out her paintings at www.mnartists.org/sheila-smith. @SheWhoTravels @MNCitizen

Nate McGaha

Executive Director

Arts North Carolina

Nate McGaha has served as the Executive Director of Arts North Carolina, the statewide advocacy organization for the arts, since 2017 where he works for public funding and policy for the arts and arts education. He helped to create the Joint Caucus on Arts and Arts Education at the NC General Assembly, shepherded the NC Arts High School Graduation Requirement into law, and has led several statewide initiatives for relief, reopening, and recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to his work in advocacy, Nate was the Executive Director of Carolina Ballet in Raleigh for five years with Artistic Director Robert Weiss. Before coming to the Raleigh area he was the Director of Operations at Charlotte Ballet under the Artistic Direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride for seven years after serving as that company’s Resident Lighting Designer since 1996. Nate was also the Production Manager and Lighting Designer for the Chautauqua Ballet Company in the summer months from 1997 through 2009 and toured internationally with Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson’s Complexions Dance Company. He is a graduate of UNC School of the Arts where he received a BFA in Design and Production with concentration in Lighting Design. 


October 2020 Member Briefing
Live event: 10/20/2020 at 3:00 PM (EDT) You must register to access.