The Creative Coalition is the steward of the creative industry. In 2017, their job is of the utmost importance. 

By Ivy Jackson

What is life without art? If you ask members of the US-based non-profit The Creative Coalition, an organization founded in 1989 by Hollywood elites including Christopher Reeve, Alec Baldwin, and Susan Sarandon, the answer is “not much.” 

For nearly three decades The Creative Coalition has been on a mission to advocate for the entertainment and arts communities using the power of its star-studded roster of members—currently, actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s president. In short, its purpose is to keep culture alive.

And today, they have their hands full, because some of the pillars that prop up much of culture as we know it, in the US at least, are under attack. With President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal came a direct threat to cut both the National Endowment to the Humanities as well as the National Endowment to the Arts, a move that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called “a foolish proposal.”

“Taking away arts access is feeding a slow death of culture,” says Robin Bronk, CEO of The Creative Coalition. “The US is a world power and we need to have world-class art, but unfortunately, right now, we’re falling behind.”

But the organization isn’t one to just let culture fall by the wayside. “The 2017 Oscars were about a month after President Trump declared a war on public funding for the arts,” says Bronk. So, The Creative Coalition used his assault to their advantage, encouraging award-show attendees, from on-screen talent to behind-the-scenes lighting techs, writers, and industry executives, to carry crayons and paint brushes to the red carpet affair as a symbol of unity.

Capturing the moments online across social media were a pair of hashtags: #OperationPaintbrush and #RightToBearArt, a play on words of the Second Amendment of the American Constitution.

“We live in a world where a hashtag has the ability to move issues,” says Bronk. “Social media is a magnificent collision between grasstops and grassroots.”

And the grasstops showed up. Pretty Little Liars’ Troian Bellisario, for example, uploaded a #RightToBearArts post to her 10.3-million fans on Instagram, garnering 283,000 likes. And Sarah Jessica Parker (forever Carrie Bradshaw) echoed Bellisario’s sentiment: “Please, please, please let us stand together to protect funding for arts,” she captioned a photo of a pile of crayons in February on her Instagram account. Bradshaw’s stack of crayons was worth nearly 60,000 likes from her 3.6-million following. Actress Lisa Rinna and actress/singer/producer Alyssa Milano have also paid digital homage, participating in the non-profit’s online awareness push.

It’s no wonder Hollywood’s leading ladies are getting onboard with The Creative Coalition’s crafty digital campaigns; the organization has been a huge player in raising the profiles of countless hard-working women in the arts for decades. In 2010, the group hosted an event called Tribute to Women Who Make Women Look Good on Film (and the Men Who Love Us), sticking with a lighthearted theme to elevate attention-deserving females in film.

“We strive to recognize women in the entertainment industry who are doing great and significant things,” says Bronk. “I’m proud to say that this has been one of our key areas of focus.”

This year at TIFF, The Creative Coalition will throw its annual Spotlight Initiative Awards gala dinner hosted by Nordstrom Supper Suite at STK on September 9. “We recognize leadership in the industry, and spotlight those who are at the Toronto International Film Festival,” says Bronk. Past award-recipients include the likes of Kathy Bates, Whoopi Goldberg, Dustin Hoffman, Demi Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Quentin Tarantino, and many more.

While this band of creative crusaders continues to push awareness at star-studded events like TIFF, it’s the less polished and less glamorous daily grind—the hashtags, the re-tweets, the conversations—that we all can, and should, participate in to protect access to the arts. 

What is life without art? Hopefully, we never have to find out.

“We live in a world where a hashtag has the ability to move issues. Social media is a magnificent collision between grasstops and grassroots.”

Please, please, please let us stand together to protect funding for arts. X, SJ #RightToBearArts

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