Audience Development for Arts Advocacy or the popcorn & candy top 10 reasons to support the arts

Last week I found a blog that was resurrected for another round on Twitter:

The Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts (from Arts Watch)

This blog post is a good summary of many of the practical reasons why the arts are good for us:

10. True prosperity
9. Stronger communities
8. Health and well-being
7. 21st Century workforce

6. Improved academic performance
5. Arts in the schools = better SAT scores
4. Creative Industries
3. Arts are the cornerstone of tourism
2. Arts are good for local merchants
1. The arts are an Industry

You can read about each one on the blog.   I agree with these reasons, however, I feel that these are the vegetables (the veggies version I like to call it) that we keep feeding people in order to attempt to get them to become more aware and agree.  Like most of us know, we have been told that 3-5 servings of vegetables and fruit along with exercise will keep us healthy, yet the majority of us are not eating healthy nor exercising.  Do you think this approach is working? Maybe for the few that are more conscious of their daily life diets.  Wouldn’t we rather have the majority catch onto the value of the arts?

I am a firm believer that we need to start applying audience development techniques to arts advocacy campaigns.  We need to get more and more people involved and in order to do that, we need to build relationships around this common cause and get people to start taking action.  One way to get people more interested is to create reasons that excite us and energize us to want to become a part of the arts movement.

My friends from @NPAConvention were curious about my tweet on this subject and wanted to know what the popcorn and candy version would look like for the top 10 reasons for the arts.  I’ve been giving this challenge some thought and came up with my own top 10 reasons for arts advocacy that might have a little more sugar coating to get people to sit up and take notice.

The arts…

10. Make life fun!  Consider what you do for fun.  Do you go to see a movie?  Do you play video games?  Do you watch television?  Do you take the kids to a show at the library?  Do you read books?  Whatever you do for fun most of the time has a tie into the arts.  You need artists, actors, producers, writers, etc. in order to create these fun things to do.  The next time you are looking for fun, think about what part of the arts contributes to your fun.

9. Brings awareness to life…Every time someone is attempting to get your attention via a commercial, campaign, marketing message, magazine and book covers, the arts are involved.  Everyone wants to bring awareness about what they care about, what they want to sell, and what they want others to join in caring about.  The arts make these messages in life “pop.”  Without the creativity that grabs our attentions and gives us something to talk about, the messages in our lives would be stale and boring.  We wouldn’t be able to sell our products and ideas and our passions without the arts.

8. Design our world…My mother has a broken toilet seat.  She could get an ordinary toilet seat.  Or, she could get one of these snazzy toilet seats!  The arts help to make the ordinary into something extraordinary.  We buy product designs  that suit our personalities and that are fun to share when others come to visit.  We purchase clothes that show our personalities to others.   We develop websites that give us a brand and identity online.   Designs give us choices in life that will fit our own style.  Without the arts and the artists that design our world, we would all be uniform, same old same old.

7. Make our dining experiences more tasteful!  When I go out to eat, I generally hear people commenting not only on how the food tastes, but the appearance of the food.  I recently went to a new Mexican Bistro in town, and their create your own guacamole not only had an entertaining side show where the prep chef combined the ingredients that we chose, but it was presented on a plate partly covered with spices that had the artistic logo of the restaurant artistically brushed into this spiced canvas.  The culinary arts make our food look and taste good.  Without these creative types, we would all be eating brown lumpy globs of food.

8. Pop our culture!  When you turn on the radio to hear a popular song or look at the paper (or online version) with the headlines about the latest Harry Potter movie, this is the arts popping our culture. I’m sure in your lifetime there was a celebrity heartthrob when you were a teenager.  The pop magazines, books, radio songs, give us something to get excited about, to talk about.  Can you imagine if there was no Oprah, or the Beatles or the Andy Warhols of art?  Without our pop icons, our pop culture, there wouldn’t be as much buzz in our world.

7.  Allow us to express ourselves…  What do you like to do to express yourself?  Maybe you like to write poems or short stories?  Maybe you play music on the piano?  Maybe you draw and doodle?  Maybe you dance when no one is looking?  Maybe you sing in the shower?  These expressions of yourself are the arts.  Stop and think about how you express yourself, and I am willing to bet that the arts play a part almost every time.

6. Picture it!  Taking photographs to remember our lives or adding a picture to a statement we make on our blog is allowing an image to do the talking for us.  A picture is worth a thousand words, and images either through paint, pen, graphic design or photograph, help us record our histories.  If you wanted to show your baby with a bunch of chocolate cake on his face to make others laugh, you would use a picture.  Can you imagine our text books or news without images?  Boring!   Seeing is believing.  Pictures bring our stories to life.  The photographers and artists that help create these images as well as the camera and software designers that allow us to capture and create images ourselves are artists that help us to picture our lives.

5. Make learning fun! Yes the veggies list does have arts education as a point, but let’s jazz this us a bit.  We could learn our multiplication tables by memorizing or we could learn by applying a song.  Which way do you think a kid would a)prefer and b)remember?  The arts make learning fun and easier to absorb.  Why do you think Sesame Street is so successful for young children?  Do you think without the puppets, colors, cartoons, etc, that the children would be as fascinated by it?  Many of us learned our bones through the bone song.  My fifth grade teacher was fond of theater and we would pretend we were a character at the chalk board when we had to demonstrate in front of the class.  I remember being a robot working on a division problem.   Kids also love to take a break from the regular subjects for their arts and music classes.  It makes school fun to go to.  Sure, we could cut the arts out of eduction, but without the arts, education would not be fun and our children would learn less.

4.  Get us together! Whenever we want to go out with our friends, most of the time, the arts are involved.  Our conversations at coffee shops about music, games, something we saw on the news, or the latest adventures on a favorite television show, have arts involved.  We go to movies together or go see our children’s school plays.  Family trips to a museum or concert brings a family more together.  The arts are social events that get us talking and provide us with places to congregate.

3. Help us to think creatively…In order for us to have people that can be creative and come up with the next scientific solution, we need the arts to teach them how to think creatively.  Have you ever not been able to sleep and instead turned on the television to see infomercials about the latest inventions that will improve our lives?  This type of creative thinking is boosted by being involved in the arts.  The next time you hear about the latest science discovery or the latest product invention, think creatively about how these people learned to be creative. You can go to the library and check out a biography of your favorite scientist or inventor.  Most of them were involved with the arts in one way or another.

2. Help us deal with the veggies of our lives… A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.  The arts are the sugar to the medicine of our lives.  How many of you use your iPod for music while cleaning the house or doing your exercises for the day? Music is used many times to help us get through the chores of life.

1. Make our lives easier… Sometimes we need to escape.  The arts provide us the fantasy time we need to get away from our real lives.  Through this time, we might gain a new perspective, time to relax, or time to be just ourselves.  All in all, the arts make our lives easier in so many ways.

I’m sure there are other popcorn and candy reasons why the arts are valuable too.  If you think of any, be sure to leave a comment!

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

2 responses to “Audience Development for Arts Advocacy or the popcorn & candy top 10 reasons to support the arts

  1. Pingback: Audience Development for Arts Advocacy II | Audience Development Specialists Blog!

  2. Pingback: In your face arts advocacy! | Audience Development Specialists Blog!

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