Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fine Art Fund Inclusion - By Invitation Only

Americans for the Arts has invited Margy Waller of the Fine Arts Fund to blog about their report on communicating for the arts.

Ms. Waller's initial blog post (Tuesday, March 9, 2010) is titled "Making the Case: Effective Messaging for the Arts." According to Ms. Waller, the FAF began in 2008 "to develop an inclusive community dialogue leading to broadly shared public responsibility for arts and culture." (emphasis is mine).

The Fine Arts Fund may have developed a research-based answer with catchy phrases like "ripple effects," but the conversation the FAF dictates remains exclusive, private, and by invitation only.

Consider yourself invited.


Beth B said...

As a frequent arts attendee and donor, a participant in many programs connected with the Fine Arts Fund, and as a board member of a smaller arts organization, I find your assertions really puzzling. For many, many years the Fine Arts Fund has been about more than the "big 8." For more than 10 years, the Arts Services Office has provided invaluable support to small and mid-sized arts organizations through grants, technical support, and well-trained volunteers. Ten associate member organizations also receive annual funding from the campaign. Both of these span a very diverse group of organizations in three states. This while contining to be a funding source for the large anchor institutions, without which this region's status as premier arts destination would be in jeopardy.

Funding for the arts is changing and old models may not work as our region grows and changes. The fact that the FAF leaders are willing to look down the road to plan for the future should be commended, not put down. Most of us who love and participate in local arts and culture don't have to be convinced about their value, but the rest of the region, who may not yet have felt the pull and joy of art in their lives, need to understand what it means to a thriving community.

The point of the study as I understood it is to realize that the way "we" talk isn't reaching lots of people. Not everyone may agree with some of the conclusions, but it's the first I've really heard that tries to include many voices in this conversation. Yours is included simply by starting your own dialogue. I understand that you may have a difference of opinion, but I only hope that you will be fair and accurate in how you portray a sector that others may not be familiar with.

Me said...


Thank you for your comments and particularly for the outline of many of the things the FAF does do and support.

What I have an issue with is this "we" talk. The notion that the FAF is trying to include as many voices as possible is simply not true. My voice is not included in their conversation as they've made it clear not to engage me publicly. I've set up a separate discussion that tries to engage them.

But I am more interested in your assertion that those who love and participate in the arts don't need to be convinced of their value. I am especially interested in those "who may not yet have felt the pull and joy of art in their lives."

Who are these people? How do we identify them? There are so many of "these people" or "some people" to which the FAF seem to allude in their research, but I'm still not convince I understand who these people are.

Beth, I don't condemn the FAF's interest in working towards a new funding model, my concern is their methodology. The FAF can talk about "inclusion" and a "community responsibility" for the arts, but these terms are as vague as "some people."

I think if the FAF was really interested in including many voices into the discussion, undefined groups of people wouldn't be part of the discussion.