When You Invite An Artist To Dinner

Last week I was invited to dinner to meet with a muralist who is in town painting the floodwall murals. I don’t mean to constantly harp on the small town charm I am experiencing here at my new job, but you write what you know, eh?

I have been thinking recently back to my childhood when my parents would regularly invite our teachers home for dinner. It wasn’t just my family. Every kid’s family seemed to take turns. We were all horrified because not only were our teachers invading our personal sanctums, but given we were Catholic school kids, our homes were being visited by nuns who kept us at the edge of terror!

I am not sure anyone does this any more, but this was the type of grassroots effort that let both the kids and the teachers know the community valued education.

I wonder if it might be effective to do the same thing with the arts where you invited your neighbors over to meet an artist.

I know a few groups that have house concerts by guest musicians as fund raising events. While that sort of intimacy offers a great experience, the type of people invited and the expectations placed upon them by the fund raising format aren’t really conducive to what I have in mind.

Having the party at the biggest mansion in the most exclusive neighborhood probably won’t make the arts appear accessible to new segments of the community either.

But a back yard cook out or dinner you would invite your friends to anyway, but in this instance you say, I would like you to come to dinner to meet this local/visiting artist, provides a low pressure environment that communicates that you value the arts.

The artist doesn’t need to perform or have their work on display. Just the fact they are the guest of honor to whom everyone is introduced at a gathering with good food and good company can be sufficient to influence attitudes.


About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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