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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Evangelism responses

I received quite a few responses to my posts last week on the evangelical qualities of arts management, despite our continual focus on business practice. Most respondents reflected the same sense of conflict and confusion between mission and marketing. Said one reader:

The arts are being asked to prove their worth based on evidence, proof, hard figures.  And I think that's harder for something spiritual, which the experience of the arts is.  Are preachers asked to quantify why they think God is good?  Not when they're preaching to the choir.  But when they're trying to attract 'patrons,' they are, and they struggle like the arts do. 

Another had a direct personal experience of the connection between arts management and the clergy:

I had a very good philosophy professor in college who had started out to be an Episcopalian priest. He left the effort when the local Bishop told him he had two jobs: to keep the pews full and to keep the money coming in. Sound familiar?

Finally, one reader took off on the idea of a 'bait and switch' strategy for arts marketing, building from the example of one faith-based effort:

An interesting option might ironically be to adopt the approach of the Chick tracts ( which very overtly proselytize. I really disagree with what they say and the manner in which they try to transmit their message, but it is a great format for dissemination. Even though the illustrations tend to look dated, the pictures attract your attention when you see them laying around and create enough interest to make you want to pick them up even if you may not agree with the subject matter. They are cheap to print and are a good size for carrying around and passing out.

He went on to suggest that the challenge of such marketing efforts is that it's difficult to track (and therefore justify) the results of time and money 'on a project that is expressly designed to be so subtle.'

On the parallel matter of the Museum of Fine Arts' apparent sacrilege in loaning precious works to a Vegas resort, a reader pulled another example from the headlines for comparison:

The Boston Globe has an article on the Cordova Museum (Lincoln, MA) program to rent paintings to business locations. Generating $500,000 a year - how does this differ from the MFA deal, other than in scale and quality of work?

Thanks for the ideas and comments, keep them coming...

posted on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | permalink