Audience development & arts advocacy for arts funding

These are strange times.  For every arts cut story I find in news sources across the country, there is at least a story to match of an arts group raising money to help a community.    Today there was an arts cuts article for Wisconsin, and meanwhile in Joplin, MO, there was an article of an arts festival raising funds to help rebuild the community after the devastating tornado damage.

Artists and arts organizations have been attempting to reason with politicians for many years now.  There is overwhelming evidence that the arts help us in numerous ways – economically, medically, historically, etc., etc., etc., yet for some reason there are still politicians that simply want to cut the pennies to the arts in order to save pennies.  Instead of saving money, they are actually losing money, and a whole lot more.

The evidence has been stated many times that the arts give back financially many times over compared to the money put in to fund arts programs.  Why the deaf ear and the blind eye to this fact?  In a sentence, we as a people have not done enough arts advocacy or audience development for the arts. 

The tides are starting to change though.  I now am seeing arts advocacy articles, op-eds, letters to the editor pop up from time to time.  Arts celebrities are starting to come forward in a public manner with their words and their wallets.   Some politicians are fighting for the arts now.  Some.  I hope in this decade the scale starts tipping in favor of all politicians supporting the arts, but that might be a pipe dream.

So instead of dreaming, waiting and hoping, I encourage anyone and everyone that reads this blog to find one way to contribute to arts advocacy and one way to support an arts organizations or an artist by helping them to build relationships with people in their communities.  We obviously cannot count on the politicians to vote in our favor anymore.  The idea of us voting them in to serve the public interest may also be a pipe dream now.  They seem to have their own ideals and agendas they are pushing, and their own corporations and private interests that are pushing them.

To sum up this rambling post, the arts are there for us and support our communities in a variety of ways, isn’t it time for us to stand up and support the arts!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”

~James Stewart


Filed under arts advocacy, Audience Development

5 responses to “Audience development & arts advocacy for arts funding

  1. Very apt. If we educated those who will become decision makers appropriately, they’d support the essentials in life (like, the arts)! I’m sure you came across this open letter: Family’s open letter to scary Gov of Kansas who doesn’t want tax income!

    Another interesting twist is how political the arts are. Here in the US, the “Conservative” Republicans (as a party – there are exceptions) appear to be generally against public arts funding, whereas in the UK the “Conservatives” (that’s their party name) are polar opposite and totally for arts funding! Of course, the UK gov’t is making cuts now, but the hospitals lost their money first, and no-one is immune to public funding in the UK. I just find it interesting that the arts are seen as a political tool and not as the central necessity it is for survival.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Stephen. It is a shame that life necessities are all wrapped up in politics, a shame when they want to cut funding that is. Yes, conservative seems to mean opposite sides of the spectrum in the US and UK. It should mean conserve life, which would mean supporting the arts!

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment, Stephen. Terrific Tuesday to you!

  2. It has been my experience that individual support for the arts comes from those who engage in a creative practice themselves and/or those who have deep, deep, deep appreciation for a particular art form.

    But being cognizant of how arts experiences help to achieve big-picture goals should also be an important contributing factor when choosing whether to fund the arts programs.
    Louise Stevens speaks of the creativity-innovation partnership:
    Ensuring that the programs which help to drive this delicate partnership are adequately funded comes down to values. I frequently make a point of educating potential donors about the value of this collective creativity-innovation partnership. Since the issue of inadequate funding has very broad implications, many of which lie outside the creative sector, I direct much of my own advocacy efforts towards highlighting the impact *outside* the sector.

    Thanks for bringing up this topic!!

    • Hi Kira,

      Thank you for commenting. It is true that we need to outreach more than “in reach” at this time. In my other blog, I mention how the arts/creativity is all around us. Whether you say you appreciate the arts or say that you don’t, most people do not realize that every time they say, “I like the design of this product!” or “I love that song on the radio!,” they are appreciating what the arts can do for them.

      Thanks again for bringing up this point, Kira.

  3. Pingback: Arts advocacy for arts funding (via Audience Development Specialists Blog!) « Mid Pennine Arts

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