Here are some tips on how to demonstrate the value of public investment in arts and culture effectively to your MP.
For more detailed information on working with MPs, download our full guidance
All MPs have influence in Parliament or in local government. If you don't already have a strong relationship with your local MP consider cultivating their support as soon as possible. Bear in mind that MPs receive many appeals for support and have a limited amount of time. MPs are usually available in their constituencies on Fridays and at weekends.
Research the MP's interests. For example, research memberships of Select Committees and All Party Parliamentary groups, find out if they have asked relevant questions in Parliament, and see if the organisations they are patrons of will help you to tailor your approach.
Use your networks to make a compelling offer for your MP or an appropriate minister or shadow minister. For example, you could host a visit themed around children and young people with other arts organisations in your area.
How to contact your MP
Visit www.parliament.uk to find out who your local MP is. It is best to contact the MP via their constituency office (rather than Westminster). Find the MP's personal website to get their constituency contact details. Otherwise you can send a message via www.theyworkforyou.com. However a personal approach is best.
Make your approach relevant to the MP's constituency. If you have a city or area wide remit then it might be more appropriate to ask a person who lives in the MPs constituency to contact them first.
Events with MPs
Invite your local MP to an event or to see your organisation's work. Offer to provide a behind the scenes guide or tour, with the opportunity to meet some of your staff and some of the people who benefit from what you do. If your invitation is accepted, suggest that you set up a photo call with the local media.
Developing the relationship
- continue to invite your MP to opening nights, launches and events
- provide them with regular updates on what your organisation is doing, for example through press releases and via social media. Use the 'why arts and culture are good value' bullets in these updates
- some MPs write a column for their local newspaper and may be prepared to feature your organisation and a story about arts funding if approached
- you could also encourage people who have benefited from your work to write to their MP or other key stakeholders expressing support for the work you do
- visit your MP’s surgery accompanied by people who benefit from what you do - for example parents of children in your education programmes
- invite MPs to join our boards - you could also consider inviting a head teacher; a voluntary or community leader; a local business; a young person
- host roundtables with local cultural organisations and invite local MPs, councillors and businesses to come and talk about the social and economic value that culture contributes to the local area
Over the long term this approach helps politicians and key stakeholders to see the value of the arts to their constituents and the local community.