There’s a great deal of talk of education, when it comes to innovation, especially with the Republican presidential primary well underway. As policymakers and experts debate about how best to increase U.S. competitiveness by way of visa expansion, classroom improvements and infrastructure development, what of the arts?
The Creative Coalition, founded in 1989, is the social and public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. The nonprofit, nonpartisan group has been headed by chief executive Robin Bronk since April 2010. The coalition’s membership includes individuals “whose careers are related to the arts or entertainment fields,” according to group documents.
Under Bronk, the Creative Coalition has undertaken advocacy initiatives in collaboration with World Wrestling Entertainment against bullying and Blue Star Families to prevent military suicides. It has also advocated on Capitol Hill for increases to arts education funding.
I caught up with Bronk on Monday to discuss what was in the works for the coalition heading into 2012. Here’s a lightly edited transcript:
WP: What type of outreach initiatives do you anticipate undertaking this election cycle?
We’re a nonpartisan, nonprofit charity organization. Our mission is to use the grass top to enjoin and engage the grass roots. So, one of the things we’re looking at is that last time around we — the populace, the nation, the younger vote — did prevail. And now here we are, four years later. Social media is that much stronger. How do we leverage and maximize social media to promote get-out-the-vote?
WP: With the advent of social media and Web-based influence-rating sites, how has this forced the coalition to innovate in terms of getting the newest celebrity voices?
One of the things that defines being a celebrity is having a fan base. And today these fan bases are often determined through social media. So one of the criteria that we look at when we look at leadership in the entertainment industry is: How are they maximizing exploiting in a good way and leveraging social media?
Celebrities with a more significant presence in social media are usually used to communicating and influencing their fan base through this mechanism. It allows them to communicate and influence their fan base, so it’s more of an effect that we are taking advantage of in a good way.
WP: How do you organize so many creative individuals around a single goal?
Our job is such that we know pretty much where we’re going to be most days. The nature of a celebrity’s job is that it is often unpredictable: They can be in Romania one day, they can be in Toronto the next day, and then Michigan without a lot of advance notice. So we look at how we can utilize technology to engage someone who’s not at a predictable desk every day. And we also try and make all of our issues and the celebrities we get involved with on our issues organic. It doesn’t do anyone any good if it doesn’t make organic sense.
WP: What are some of the major differences you are seeing between the coalition’s older and younger members in terms of what is important to them and how they choose to go about supporting outreach initiatives?
Because we work so intensely with training sessions about how to choose issues, both the older and younger generations do so in very similar ways. Surprisingly, it seems like the older generation has embraced technology and seems to be using the technology to promote their ideals, their issues as much as the younger generation. It’s really surprised me how technology has been adopted by the generations.
WP: Which celebrities do you expect to be front-and-center this election cycle?
The Creative Coalition is actively planning our slate of activities during the Republican and Democratic national conventions. We bring about 30 celebrities to be observers at each convention, and we are currently preparing for this year’s slate of activities at the DNC and RNC.
I do know this: we’ve been getting exponentially more calls from celebrities who want to be part of our delegation — earlier and more often than ever before. I am seeing both sides of the aisle reaching out to us via surrogates.
WP: There’s been a lot of talk about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and how much it is needed to strengthen American competitiveness. What are you doing to be heard in advocating for increased arts funding?
We’ve been trying to change the word STEM into STEAM. Let’s talk about the efficacy of the arts across the curriculum and across education. We did a campaign in collaboration with the Girl Scouts called “Watch What You Watch” about girls’ body image and the media. We just did a suicide prevention hotline promotion for the military called “I Don’t Know What It’s Like.” Again, it’s about how do you use the arts?
WP: With the war in Iraq coming to an end, how do you anticipate remaining active with military veterans and their families?
We hope that we’re called upon again to help pilot, demonstrate how the arts can heal and again use the arts as a resource.
WP: What innovation do you have your eye on now?
Data collection and the ease of being able to put your fingers on data, which, particularly in the arts, is so important.
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