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ArtPlace 2017 How to Talk about The Arts
Transcript of ArtPlace 2017 How to Talk about The Arts
What Do We Want?
"Why should the working class pay for the leisure of the elite when in fact one of the things the working class likes to do for leisure is go to professional wrestling? And if I suggested we should have federal funds for professional wrestling to lower the cost of the ticket, people would think I'm insane....." -- Catholic League President Bill Donohue speaking of an exhibit at the Smithsonian in 2010.
“…people are arriving in tuxedos and getting out of limousines at the expense of the poor person who is in blue jeans and sneakers.”
- Rep. Steve King of Iowa during floor debate
Why did we do the research?
What do people think about when we say arts and culture?
They don't know what we mean.
Most people don't have a file for arts & culture.
People thinking as consumers.
"What should we do this weekend?"
Entertainment is a private choice, not a public concern.
Not for Me
They wear special clothes for that stuff.
What about economic impact and return on investment?
What about arts education?
Other approaches that missed the mark:
civic inspiration and progress
physical and mental well-being
broadening our horizons
basic need/human universal
works of beauty
great downtown institutions
No active opposition
People think arts are nice
So! What's the problem?
The arts are nice --
but the arts are not necessary.
What's the big idea?
A thriving arts sector
ripple effects of benefits
throughout our community
Breaking down the organizing idea
First - describe"arts".
Paint the picture.
This simple idea shapes the conversation
in important ways.
The arts are a private matter
The arts are a good to be purchased
people expect to be passive not active
the arts are a low priority
A message that:
Positions arts and culture as a public good – a communal interest in which all have a stake,
Provides a clearer picture of the kinds of events, activities and institutions we are talking about,
Conveys the importance of a proactive stance, and
Incorporates all people in a region, not just those in urban centers.
Polling or Marketing
Pride in what earlier residents created
•As focus, leads to some pushback, disconnect from present
Arts is essential to humans’ physical wellbeing
•Intriguing, but ends up reducing arts to stress-relieving activities
Arts broaden our horizons
•Liked - but doesn’t connect to collective responsibility
Arts create economic boost
•Seems like overpromising (not a top economic priority)
Great art inspires civic greatness
•Causal story not grasped
Here’s a checklist you can use:
✓ Arts Organization or Artist: Are the benefits created by an organization/event/institution?
✓ Concrete Description: Does the discussion give a concrete picture of arts experiences?
✓ Vibrancy/Connectedness: Does the example include benefits that could be seen as examples of vibrancy/vitality or increased connectedness?
✓ Benefits to All: Does the example point out potential benefits to people who are not participating in the specific event?
✓ Behind the scenes: Does the discussion also remind people that this doesn’t happen by accident but requires investment, etc.?
✓ One of Many: When possible, it is helpful to mention additional examples in the discussion, which helps audiences focus on the broader point that the arts and artists create a range of benefits.
✓ Does the messenger support the concept of arts benefiting everyone? Our research recommends a local leader as speaker.