You Too Can Help Build Public Will For Arts And Culture

Long time readers will know that for the last year or so I have been a bit of an evangelist for the burgeoning effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture.

What impresses me about the effort is that it learns from the successes and mistakes of past efforts. For example, they study how the a long standing concern about smoking didn’t gain much traction until the argument was reframed around the idea that one had a right to protect one’s health from second hand smoke.

Nor is the effort afraid to cede short term satisfaction in order to meet the long term goals. First rule of building public will for art and culture is you don’t talk about art and culture. (Because the term currently has negative connotations for people.)

The effort has moved to the next step with the creation of the Creating Connections website. The site has a summary of the research to date. There are tools for getting involved, including messaging, how engage with groups so they feel like they have a stake in the outcome and questions to ask oneself about the experiences you are providing to the community.

What I was surprised to see was the inclusion of talking points about the Building Public Will effort that accompanied a Powerpoint presentation on the subject.

Basically, anyone can go out and start talking to groups about this effort tomorrow if they wanted to. I feel like that is putting a lot of trust in people not to screw it up. But that also fits into the underlying philosophy about this being a grassroots effort about active participation in the arts and culture.

So if anyone wants me to come talk to their group, let me know. I am ready! More importantly, now you have the tools to deliver the talk yourself. (Though obviously a famous blogger such as myself would have WAY more gravitas!)

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 ( 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. (

My most recent role was as Executive 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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