As the Robert W. Deutsch Arts & Technology Policy Fellow, and in conjunction with Fractured Atlas, Courtney Duffy informs and engages the arts community in federal policy discussions at the junction of communications, technology and the arts. Duffy’s role has involved everything from publishing op-ed and blog content and running a 3D printing policy event on Capitol Hill, to convening meetings between artists and elected officials in Washington, DC.
A New England native based out of Public Knowledge in Washington, DC, Duffy graduated from Trinity College in 2012 where she studied Political Science, English, and the Interdisciplinary Arts. Her fellowship began in the spring of 2015 and concludes in the spring of 2017.
“There are many arts organizations doing traditional – and of course, important – arts advocacy work on policy issues like arts funding and education,” said Duffy by phone in DC. “Our advocacy strategy, however, has been focused on broadening this scope to include technology policy, and bringing the creative community to the table in discussions that have not previously involved artists.”
One such technology policy area that is relevant to the arts community is broadband access. Last summer, Duffy gathered testimony from a half dozen Fractured Atlas members on the role the internet plays in their work. Their points of view were assembled into a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, a federal agency that was working to expand broadband access, on behalf of the arts community.
While Duffy’s favorite part of the fellowship has been bringing Fractured Atlas artists to Capitol Hill for congressional meetings, she acknowledges that many artists don’t have the resources necessary to effectively engage with their elected officials. “I want artists to have a foundational skillset to thoughtfully and effectively engage in policy discussions.” she said. “Many artists will naturally discuss their work in a government meeting, but it’s important to do homework in advance to gain context and connect on a deeper level, such as which committees the representative sits on, his or her voting record on arts and technology issues, whether there is a personal connection to the arts, and so on, in order to have the most impactful meeting as possible.”
In an effort to make artists better advocates for themselves, Duffy is working over the next several months to develop a formalized advocacy curriculum – a set of strategies to effectively meet with government representatives that can function at a congressional level, but also translate to local politics.
“I see this as a tool kit for artists,” said Duffy. “I want to reach a deeper level–not just scratch the surface as we’ve done in the past,” she said. “Other industries and fields are doing this much more effectively than the arts community – I want to help artists to be better advocates and to effectively change policy, and my experience at Fractured Atlas and Public Knowledge have helped me make a dent in this goal.”
Courtney Duffy, PK’s Robert W. Deutsch Arts & Technology Fellow, spearheaded the 5th annual 3D/DC 2016, the premier 3D printing policy event in the nation. The event focused on STEAM Education, the Environment, Social Impact, Bridging the Workforce Skills Gap, and The Arts and took place on Capitol Hill over the course of April 13 and 14, 2016. You can check out social media posts from the event using #3DDC2016, and follow Courtney Duffy on Twitter at @cduffy90.