This past year, Bernstein Family Foundation was proud to provide The Creative Coalition with a grant to support its upcoming Arts Advocacy Day. Several decades ago, TCC was founded by a network of Hollywood actors determined to safeguard the arts and arts in education through the unique power and platforms of the entertainment community. CEO Robin Bronk has spent over a decade protecting these interests, spearheading the organization’s efforts to sustain its vital mission.
How did you land yourself in public advocacy for the entertainment world?
My career began at an organization called Close Up Foundation, which is based in Washington DC, a national non-profit with the mission of educating high school students and other Americans as to how to become a contributing citizen. After Close Up, I joined the Washington-DC based firm, APCO Worldwide, a full-service pubic affairs and lobbying firm. That’s where I really cut my teeth at the intersection of entertainment and politics (or Poliwood, as I like to refer to these interesting and unexpected bedfellows). One of my first clients was the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the interests of that trade association is certainly a marriage between Hollywood and policy.
Can you tell me about Arts Advocacy Day and its conception?
TCC has been leading this Arts Advocacy Day for over 20 years. It was conceived back in the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan was going to zero out the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). It was at that point TCC was galvanized by the actors Susan Sarandon, Ron Silver, Blair Brown, Alec Baldwin, and Christopher Reeve to use the power of the entertainment industry to bolster issues of social importance. Their focus was about saving the arts (which remains The Creative Coalition’s focus today). They educated themselves about the issues, and activated and motivated themselves and other entertainment industry leaders behind the issue of ensuring that the arts thrive in America. They did win that battle, but, unfortunately, we still haven’t won the war. For over twenty years, The Creative Coalition continues to marshal the strengths and assets of the entertainment industry behind this issue — encouraging Congress to fund the NEA, the arts, and education.
Since assuming your position in 2010, what significant changes have you brought to the organization?
I have been with TCC since 1998- I came on as Executive Director, and then was named CEO in 2010. When I came on board in 1998, The Creative Coalition was primarily a New York-centric organization with national priorities. We have since spread to have a very big presence in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Chicago, Miami, and other locales where there are significant artist and entertainment populations. We continue to maximize opportunities to bring the arts front and center.
As it is an election cycle, are you leveraging your position to have an impact on voters?
We are an issues organization, not a political organization, so we do not support any candidate. We always advocate and encourage all to be involved citizens and take your citizenship very seriously. We do everything we can to ensure that our constituency is actively participative in the election and the issues surrounding this election.
What are your insights about the creative economy and how innovation is contributing to its evolution?
So much is based on the arts. If disciplines were based on a food pyramid model, the arts would seem to be on the bottom. Statistics show that the more arts educations students receive, the more successful they will become. Statistics also show that for every dollar spent in the community on the arts, $10 comes back into the community.
In your opinion, do you think the US remains the strongest and most vibrant arts economy?
While we have a vibrant arts population, public funding for the arts is still quite scarce. And, funding is what drives a thriving and flourishing community steeped in arts.
You are a person who wears many hats – for example, you published The Art of Discovery. Can you tell me about the projects you have pioneered?
I pioneer on behalf of The Creative Coalition We have had several books come out including The Art of Discovery, Art & Soul, we have a movie, Poliwood, we have mentoring programs, policy bootcamps, etc. – we have our hands in many different disciplines in the arts and to protect the arts.
Favorite film and why?
I have a lot of favorite films, but my favorite which, if playing on TV and I can’t walk by it, is A League of Their Own. I love the script, the dialogue, and the acting; it’s a piece of art and a commentary on history.
Most rewarding aspect of your job?
That it allows me to put my left and right brain together, to be strategic, analytical and change the world through the arts.
Throughout your career, who has been your biggest inspiration?
My three daughters – Eliza, Danielle and Kiki – all very accomplished in the arts in their own right.