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Hillary Clinton Talks Arts in Iowa

Posted on: Sep 15, 2015

This article was written by Kate Huffman after her encounters with Hillary Clinton. Watch the video here.

On Friday, July 17th, 2015 I met former Secretary of State and Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton for the first time.  I have been a Hillary Clinton supporter since becoming involved in politics in college - I admire her tenacity in championing women’s and human rights in the U.S. and around the world and her holistic approach to diplomacy as Secretary of State.  I told her these things as I shook her hand and before snapping a quick photo together.  Before she moved on to the next person in line, I also mentioned how I would soon be leaving for the UK to get my MA in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy from Goldsmiths, University of London, knowing how strongly she believes in the importance of making international connections and understanding other cultures.  After this first meeting, I was inspired and invigorated in my political activism!


As a recent graduate from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, having studied music and business, I have been learning how to be a better arts advocate for the past four years.  In August, I learned of an event called the Iowa Arts Advocacy Caucus put on by a coalition of partners including the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education, Iowa Arts Council, and the Americans for the Arts Action Fund.  This event promised arts advocacy training with workshops on caucusing, social media, and more.  I knew I had to attend.  This event taught me so much – especially how to talk to Presidential candidates about their stances on arts education and financial support for the arts.  Little did I know that these skills would come in handy in just a few weeks.

On September 14, 2015 I had the amazing opportunity to once again speak with Secretary Clinton at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI).  Though she’s met thousands of people on the campaign trail in the past few months, she remembered having met me in Cedar Rapids and also remembered that I was leaving soon to study in London.  She commented on the pin I was wearing that said  “I’m an Arts Advocate and I Vote!”, saying that she is also a supporter of the arts. 


I was fortunate enough to be selected to speak with Secretary Clinton, former Iowa Attorney General Bonnie Campbell, and about ten other local women's rights advocates, UNI students, and UNI officials in a closed discussion before Hillary’s speech to the public.  We talked in-depth about what universities, communities, and Secretary Clinton herself can do to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence as well as support survivors of such crimes.  What was interesting in regards to the arts in this discussion, was that Secretary Clinton brought up the successful programs she had seen implemented in different countries in Africa where individuals acted out domestic violence situations and learned how to handle such interactions and solve conflicts without violence through theater and interaction.  I pointed out that this was a great example of the arts making a difference and being used to successfully help individuals understand important issues.


After our closed discussion, Secretary Clinton thanked us all for speaking with her and we were ushered down to a ballroom full of people to listen to her speech.  She spoke passionately and pointedly about her history of championing women’s rights at home and abroad throughout her career and how women’s issues are also family and economic issues.  Secretary Clinton also spoke about the unacceptable sexual assaults and violence that happens on college campuses and how she has a plan to address and hopefully put an end to such crimes.  After finishing and being met with thunderous applause, Secretary Clinton said she had time for a few questions from the audience.  People asked about numerous topics and issues including clean-energy jobs, immigration reform, and harsh prison sentencing for non-violent offenders.  I sat patiently with my hand raised and when her eyes swept across the crowd I stood up to make myself better seen and she called on me.  Secretary Clinton thanked me for speaking with her earlier that morning and listened intently as I asked her about her stance on Arts Education and funding for Arts Education and the National Endowment for the Arts.  Fortunately, I was able to record her answer as she came out in full support of Arts Education and the NEA.


                                 Watch Hillary Clinton give her position on the arts and arts education here

Hearing Secretary Clinton speak about important issues such as pay inequality, campus violence, and especially her support for the arts makes me incredibly excited to continue to support Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Election, though I’m sad I’ll be far away in London to participate and speak with U.S. politicians directly about their support of the arts like I was able to yesterday!  I am so grateful that I was able to use the skills I learned at the Iowa Arts Advocacy Caucus to make sure that Secretary Clinton knows that there are many arts advocates like myself who have the arts as a top priority in the upcoming election.  I highly encourage all arts advocates to get out there and interact with your local, state, and federal politicians, and yes, even Presidential candidates.  It is definitely worth asking questions and finding out just how each potential future President feels about and values the arts.

Kate Huffman will be an MA student in Arts Administration & Cultural Policy, focusing in music at Goldsmiths, University of London this Fall.  She is excited to learn about arts advocacy at a global level and hopes to bring her knowledge of other countries’ methods of funding for the arts, as well as arts policies and integrated uses back with her to the U.S. after she graduates with her master’s degree.  You can find Kate at her social medias below to keep up with her London Arts Advocacy adventures!

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