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