Saving the Arts: What Works

A report released by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies analyzed a series of lobbying, advertising and grass-roots “arts advocacy” campaigns of the past decade to see what strategies worked–and which backfired.

The Federation’s researchers and members looked at campaigns by the National Endowment for the Arts and Americans for the Arts, among other entities, that sought to boost awareness, contributions, attendance or media coverage of arts around the world.

Among their findings were that national “days of awareness” don’t translate into much, and that celebrity endorsements can backfire, for two reasons. “Few [celebrities] have universal appeal and some may even deter some people,” the report concluded. “Also, those attracted to the arts by a particular celebrity may not necessarily return.”

In a case study of a $3 million arts education advocacy campaign launched earlier in the decade by Americans for the Arts and other partners, the Federation found that language mattered. A more effective way to appeal to parents (the main target audience) was to use specific phrases such as “your kids” or “your children” rather than the generic “kids” or “children.”

One troubling conclusion: The study found that some people find the term “the arts” confusing, or even threatening.

Saving the Arts: What Works