Get out the vote and arts advocacy/audience development

I am thankful that the election is only a day away.  Being from a swing state, I have been bombarded by emails, calls, and commercials.  It will be most peaceful on Wednesday, November 7th.  One issue that has been brought up is the get out the vote and how this may relate to arts advocacy and audience development.  Let me explain.

Getting out the vote never used to be so challenging.  Back in the day, most people valued voting and saw how important it was for them to vote.  Voter turnout wasn’t as much of an issue.  Today, there are “Get Out The Vote” movements, or as a friend pointed out on Twitter the “GOTV” movement. I did not know what the acronym stood for.  I thought it was pro-television or something.  All kidding aside, the fact that there needs to be a movement for something so important and a privilege for each of us that are of age, is a little bit of a shame.  We can relate to this in the arts world.  It’s a shame that we have to prove how worthy the Arts are for support and attention.

However, what I am noticing is that the movement of “GOTV” is one that is built on the principles of grassroots, community efforts and pure hard work.  People who are impassioned by helping to get out the vote are dedicating time and effort to make it happen.  How does this relate to the arts world?  Well, it is not a parallel relation.  I am not seeing as much of a grassroots, community effort across the nation.  Instead, I see a smattering of efforts.  We may come together on a national level to discuss, but I am not seeing a national effort to execute.

Why aren’t there “support the arts” buttons for purchase (I’m an arts person, and I’m not “seeing” them).  Why are we not talking with our neighbors, friends and families about the arts?  Why am I not seeing yard signs or banners?  Why are there not more memes on Facebook and Twitter in support of the arts?  Why are we not sharing, RTing the arts every chance we get? There is a disconnect between our intentions and our actions.

Winning an election these days is an “in your face” endeavor.  Due to people feeling lethargic about voting, it has to be a visible effort to get them to vote and to get them to vote for you.  Let’s consider this for our future arts advocacy and audience development efforts.  We need to be seen as well as heard.  We need to bring awareness for the “Get out the Arts Support!”  or “GOARTS!”

My small effort.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


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

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Filed under Arts, arts advocacy, Audience Development

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