In 1984, a group of artists and arts administrators, led by then state arts agency director Robb Hankins, joined forces to lift state funding for the arts in New Hampshire from its last-in-the-nation status. Their successful campaign became an organization, Arts 1000, now called New Hampshire Citizens for the Arts.
Arts 1000 helped craft and advocate for legislation and a line-item appropriation to help non-profit arts organizations with their cultural facility needs. Governor Sununu signed HB 263 into law, a NH law passed in 1987 that established one of the few grant programs in the nation dedicated to “the design, construction or renovation of cultural facilities.”
In the mid-1990s, when both the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities were threatened with reduction or elimination, Arts 1000 reorganized itself and sponsored the Bipartisan Campaign for the Arts and Humanities. attracting filmmaker Ken Burns as spokesperson. The Bipartisan Campaign utilized the visibility of the NH Primary and the live presence of candidates to achieve a powerful voice. The organization’s strong grassroots advocacy network provided information and support for Senator Judd Gregg to testify in favor of keeping the Endowments intact. By combining its efforts with those in other states New Hampshire saved both Endowments and reinforced the federal-state partnership for supporting the arts and culture.
Arts 1000/NH Citizens for the Arts has remained alert to recurring advocacy needs: derailing proposals for an entertainment tax on nonprofit and for-profit cultural organization tickets to cultural events, retaining the high-school art credit required for graduation, stopping efforts by municipalities to tax nonprofits’ land and buildings, preserving the state’s Percent for Art Program, maintaining public support for public television and radio, ensuring fairness for the arts council’s budget during periodic state cutbacks, and supporting matching state funds to keep federal arts grants coming to New Hampshire. This strategy helped to establish a Traditional Arts Program at the State Arts Council in FY1997.