Today is the 5oth anniversary of the famous Martin Luther King, Jr. speech, “I have a dream...” One of the quotes that is being distributed is “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This quote literally woke me up this morning, well, enough for me to begin writing to you. I feel this quote matters to me personally. Lately, I can’t seem to get myself started. After a week off, and considering just fading into the woodwork, my work of bringing awareness for change to an audience development mentality keeps getting harder and harder.
Don’t worry, this blog is not going to be a big complain fest. I am through with that type of festival. However, I will say that getting people to take action, discuss, and congregate for arts advocacy is a big challenge.
When I saw this quote, it rang true for the translation for the arts. Our arts begin to end the day we become silent. The fact that we have to justify how valuable the arts are means to me that we have been silent far too long.
Right now, people are going about their arts businesses mainly focusing on what they need to get done in the moment to keep going. The vision isn’t extending much past this day to day business. There hasn’t been enough thought that if we collectively were giving some time to a bigger movement that the day to day may not be so challenging and get easier.
I often think of this line of thought in terms of using audience development. If more people were to shift to audience development, there would be bigger audiences and more support for the arts already. Yet, I digress.
When there was a cry out for supporting the arts during the time the NEA budget was on the chopping block, again, this time for 49% of slashing, only around 2,800 ( I think that was the number) people responded through Americans for the Arts. There are 313.9 million people (2012 figure), in the U.S.A. today. You can do the math to come up with a really low percentage of people that were not silent.
I feel like we keep wishing for someone else to save us. In reality, we need to save ourselves. Our arts begin to end, unless we collectively have a voice.
Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Audience Development Specialists
“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work. Donate here!