The Problem with Talking about "The Arts", Again
Our research on how to build broad public support for the arts came to the same conclusion about use of the word “arts” as the recent review of arts advocacy campaigns by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies.
Their summary is: “Campaigners should be aware that the term ‘the arts’ can be vague and can have less than desirable associations.”
Here's what we found by talking with people in and around Cincinnati.
First, people don’t know what we mean. And if/once they figure it out – they think about high/fine arts – which they think of as something for OTHER people, supported by rich donors and ticket sales or memberships.
This perspective gets in the way of considering the arts a public good, worthy of public funding.
The other thing that people think about when we use the word arts is entertainment. That's fine when you are marketing an event – but since choice of entertainment options is a PRIVATE choice, entertainment is also not something we think of as a public good. So — we can use the words arts, but always define it.
At ArtsWave we say things like: “the arts — our theatre, music, dance, festivals, galleries, museums, and more!” to ensure that the public knows what we mean and finds it relevant. Read more about our research here.