This is how to get started in political influencing in the dance industry
Listening and cooperation are keywords when lobbying, or trying to influence political decision-makers, says Rosa Meriläinen, Secretary General of KULTA ry.
Influencing, or lobbying, refers to the means of political influence that can increase the awareness of decision-makers about what is important for you. Advocacy work is also important in the field of dance, reminds Rosa Meriläinen, Secretary General of the Central Organization for Finnish Culture and Arts Associations KULTA ry. At its best, lobbying can drive change and the future of the industry in the desired direction.
Cooperation increases influence
However, Meriläinen reminds us that active and productive influence is hard work. It is therefore important to work with those who have the same interests and goals. In this way, in addition to advocacy work, you can save time and energy also on your artistic work. If an agenda concerns other fields in addition to dance, it is advisable to form a
representative body so that it includes people from all the relevant fields. This creates solidarity naturally.
Brush up your arguments
It is important to set a realistic goal for lobbying. Once the goal has been defined, it is worth formulating a main argument based on it, as well as a few supporting arguments for future discussions. Arguments and your own message should be clearly worded and presented to fit the agenda of decision-makers. Cultural actors often have their own language, which can be difficult for an outsider to understand. If you find it difficult to formulate your own message in easy-to-understand and general language, you should ask for help from communications professionals, Meriläinen suggests. In order to get your message across convincingly, you need to be aware of what is going on in politics. Meriläinen stresses listening to the representatives of different parties with anopen mind in order to learn and understand their way of thinking. In this way, the possibilities to influence decisions increase. It is difficult to succeed in discussions and win over decision-makers if you do not understand the logic and values on which the decisions are based.
As an influencer in the dance industry, contact at least the following:
- Your own artists' organisation
- Arts Council of the Arts Promotion Centre Finland
- Ministry of Education and Culture. If you are not a Finnish citizen, contact the Globe Art Point, for example.
- The regional centre of dance in which you live
Rosa Meriläinen, Secretary General of Kulta ry, and Helsinki Dance House Association organised a workshop on lobbying for actors in the dance industry on 5 August 2020 in the rehearsal studio at Dance House Helsinki.