ARftA's mission is to advance the arts, arts education, and the creative economy in Arkansas.
ARftA's purpose is to serve the people of Arkansas as an independent statewide organization providing leadership focused on the promotion and advancement of the creative economy, on transforming policy in arts education, and uniting the state into one voice with a call to action by policy makers to increase investment in the arts.
Arkansans for the Arts was founded in 2014. Seed funding for the organization was provided by the Windgate Foundation and a grant from Governor Mike Beebe. Since inception, Arkansans for the Arts has raised awareness about the Creative Economy through data compilation, communication, and advocacy leadership training.
Arkansans for the Arts serves eight Arkansas arts districts that coincide with the established districts of the Arkansas Arts Council and the Arkansas State Economic Development & Planning Districts. The Arkansans for the Arts board of directors, representing all eight districts, is made up of a diverse group of people from all areas and disciplines of the arts and creative economy.
Arkansans for the Arts has an active Students for the Arts program with the University of Central Arkansas and engages students in Arts Advocacy Days.
The organization is a member of Americans for the Arts, and the President serves as the Arkansas State Captain to promote arts advocacy and to help plan the National Arts Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C.
In 2018, Arkansans for the Arts’ Creative Economy Committee met with Senator Joyce Elliott to discuss the need to change the narrative and perception of the arts with respect to the economy and economic policy. Senator Elliott (Little Rock), in partnership with Representative Les Warren (Hot Springs), launched the bipartisan Legislative Arts Caucus during Arts Advocacy Day in November of 2018 at the State Capitol. Beginning in 2019, Arkansans for the Arts started hosting town hall meetings in each of the eight arts districts to bring together Legislative Arts Caucus members and creatives across the state.
Arkansans for the Arts hosted a virtual Arts Advocacy Day in October 2020 with the theme of “Arts Means Business”. The focus of the new initiative put a spotlight on Arts + Technology as a critical economic development driver to grow, retain, retrain and attract talent and innovation in Arkansas.
Between November of 2020 and March of 2021, Arkansans for the Arts Creative Economy Committee worked with Senator Elliott and Representative Warren to draft legislation creating the “Arkansas Arts+Technology Boot Camps” (SB531, passed into law as Act 577). The Boot Camps bring together members from the government, nonprofit, for-profit and academic sectors to identify gaps and opportunities to advance the creative economy throughout Arkansas.