Sometimes Audience Development requires making some noise…

Yesterday, I saw a story about an arts advocacy project in Sarasota, Florida:

Arts supporters Emerge for advocacy

By Jay Handelman
Herald Tribune

Published: Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 12:13 a.m.

Arts supporters are hoping to prove a point to local businesses and elected officials with their money.

At an Arts Rally Saturday night in Burns Square, a new group called Emerge Sarasota asked supporters to trade their dollar bills for $1 gold coins, which would then be used at local businesses to show the widespread impact of the arts in the area.

They call it “creative currency.”  Read More

My feeling is that we all need to make a little noise to get the arts the recognition needed for support.  However, it will take courageous and noisy individuals to create enough of a squeaky wheel to make an advocacy attempt transition into a working campaign.

About a month ago, I started my own squeaky wheel.  Despite people looking at the idea with some saying it was a great idea, I haven’t seen any results.  We are in a time where the arts are taken for granted.  People feel that ticket sales alone cover the cost of a show.  Others know that arts organizations and artists get grants and donations.  Do arts organizations really need individual support then?

As I mentioned before, one of the main problems is the fact that we in the arts industry have  conducted our businesses without complete honesty.  We promote ourselves like everything is fine.  Well, is everything fine?  There needs to be a balance between appearances and actual occurrences.  If no one knows we need the help, then no one will know funds are needed.

It is time for us to make some noise.  We need to be noisy  for people to realize the value of the arts.  We need to be noisy to show that the arts needs everyone’s support.  We need to be noisy to unveil the actual costs for our productions.  Does the public know that an average production takes about $30-50,000 each (or more if you’re an opera company)?  We need to be noisy and prove the benefits of the arts once and for all.

We have conducted ourselves too politely long enough.  Of course it is good to be polite, but does politeness get the point across that without support, the arts as we know it now are going to disappear?  A new revolution of art will be born in its wake.  We are humans and we have an instinctive need to create and produce.  However, having the arts readily available is something that we in this day and age have taken for granted.  In the future, without support, we will need to travel miles to see an orchestra or wait lengthy amounts of time until the traveling orchestra reaches our town (if we are even on the map).  The frequency of art will go down.  Will the quality go down as well?  Perhaps. Perhaps not, but do we want to risk not being able to enjoy quality art and share this with our children, friends and family?

If you feel passionate about the arts, I encourage you to join an arts advocacy campaign.  I started an Arts Media Campaign to write letters to the media to get more arts coverage and ask the television news networks to have an Artscast similar to the sports cast so the arts are equally covered.  If you are interested:

Life will continue on with or without the arts.  True.  But what kind of existence would it be without the arts in our daily lives?  I certainly don’t want to take my chances.  It is time to make some noise!

Until next time, may your audiences be happy and loyal ones, and if they are not, feel free to contact me!


Shoshana Fanizza is the founder of Audience Development Specialists. Her mission is to introduce artists and arts organizations to their existing and potential audiences and to help them to form more rewarding relationships.

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Filed under arts advocacy, arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

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