At the conclusion of our initial meeting of the 'focus on the message' Lasky thinking group, we determined that our primary goal is a lofty one: a cultural shift, akin to the outcomes of "got milk" or anti-smoking campaigns, positioned toward the general public, for the purpose of shifting public perception and value of art and culture.
We identified the need for two foci for this campaign:
- One directed internally, toward leaders of arts and culture organizations, acknowledging that many of our current messaging problems originate from within the culture of the arts and culture ecosystem.
- The other directed externally, toward the general public, most likely segmented into leaders in K-12 education, parents, universities, corporations, and advertising conglomerates. Focus: arts reintegration, art is a reflection of life - in all of its banality and excitement.
Big questions that need further exploration, research, soul-searching:
- What are we referring to when we say "art"?
- What are we referring to when we say "the arts"?
- How can we create a culture shift in relation to the arts?
- How can people in the arts educate ourselves on the public perception of art? How do we step out of our institutionalize-thinking-bubbles and learn? How can we assist arts leaders to better understand the changing world around them?
- How can we perform authentic, non judgemental interventions into both the culture of arts organizations and the culture of the general public?
- What are the risks we need to take?
Questions / observations regarding internal messaging - directed toward arts and culture organizations:
- How can we break the habit of restricting progress because of defensiveness?
- How do we effectively reconcile / change / play within a system where in the art / artists are continually seeking the new, the now, the present moment (able or wanting to be more reactive to the present and future-focused, needing to be nimble and fluid) while arts administrators / organizations are highly conservative, playing it safe, trapped in top-heavy organizational structures
- Most conversations born out of the arts world are inherently the product of “inbreeding” – and are therefore special and specific to the field, but complicated by a lack of broader, expansive thinking and understanding.
Potential partners and resources:
National Center for Arts Research
Their mission: To be the leading provider of evidence-based insights that enable arts and cultural leaders to overcome challenges and increase impact.
Read their overview and view their partners here.
The New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium just launched this initiative:
"The New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium has developed a new initiative in the arts and humanities called the New York Six Think Tank: Advocating for the Arts and Humanities. This project consists of a community of faculty, professionals, and students who are interested in reshaping the public conversation about the state of these important disciplines." Read more here.
The Ad Council
In researching how American cultural attitudes shift over the years we see that, naturally enough, a lot of those are catalyzed by mass media advertising. The Ad Council was behind many of the lasting slogans and important campaigns of the last few decades. These are the folks that came up with, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” and, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk."
How A Nation Engages With Art; Highlights from the [NEA] 2012 survey of public participation in the arts.
Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization whose mission is: "To honor, educate, inspire, and entertain all active duty and veteran members of the United States Armed Forces and their families by engaging them in the power and social service of the performing arts."
The Divine Mistake, a book by Theresa Byrnes
Arts organizations are hiring pros to tell their stories, Washington Post, Oct. 31, 2014
Time to join the rest of the world, Sandow, an Arts Journal blog, Oct. 28, 2014
Lincoln Center seeks more sponsors, Crains New York, Sept. 26, 2014
Where we began - Our Agenda:
What’s Brought Into the Room: Information and insight gleaned from current and past professional work.
What’s Left Outside the Room: Institutionalized ideas of what art is, who it serves, and what is possible.
- How do we, in this room, positively shift how the general public perceives the arts?
- What do you have to do, personally, to affect this change for yourself? For others?
- What are behaviors and or habits around messaging that must be addressed to move a positive perception of the arts forward?
- How can we take control of the message?
- How can we proactively craft messages that reach specific, targeted audiences?
- What are those audiences and what are the action steps required to reach them?