Can You Answer This Question About The Arts?

I am a little embarrassed that it hasn’t occurred to me to post about this sooner.

Here on the old blogosphere, general Internet, at conferences, in coffee houses and on the street where you live, we often talk about educating people, reaching out to them, removing the sense of mystery about the arts. Yet it seems so difficult to figure out an effective way to do this.

While I am not going to claim it would have a high ROI, it just occurred to me, (despite participating for years), that getting more arts people answering questions on Quora would help promote and educate people about the subject. In addition, it would give those involved with the arts a sense of what people were asking and give them practice answering the questions.

I have been reading and participating on Quora for a few years and only just recently realized that the arts have pretty light representation in terms of questions and responses. I get a digest of recent responses everyday which often address questions about history (real and speculative), politics, and guns, lots of guns. I have no idea why I get so many topics on guns since that isn’t one of my stated interests.

It just occurred to me this weekend that I don’t really see much about the arts. When I do seek out questions on the topic, the most recent answers can be between 3-5 years old.

Today I got a request to answer – “Why do they tiptoe in ballet?” I have a general idea of how to respond, but many of you with a dance focus can do a better job answering than me.

Here is a brief example of the types of questions in the subject area – What makes acting believable?; How can I improve my live performance as a musician?; Theatre: Why aren’t plays recorded for commercial sale?; What are some interesting tricks that are used in theatrical set design? (this one only has two answers); Is it socially acceptable to go to the theater by myself?

Of course, there are also questions about studying an arts discipline (barely any answers on multiple theatre related ones) and dating someone who is involved in the arts.

Quora can be a great source of information on areas of interest you may have. You may often discover answers to questions you weren’t aware you had. The range of people answering questions can be surprising. Celebrities, prominent business people, Nobel Prize winners and prominent experts often offer their insight. Over time you will also start to recognize and even seek out answers by less noted people who have earned your trust by exhibiting a high level of expertise and thoughtfulness in their responses.

While you will find articles providing advice on how to use Quora for marketing and promotion, the environment of the forum doesn’t really tolerate blatant promotion.

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. (

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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2 thoughts on “Can You Answer This Question About The Arts?”

    • I am trying to be a lot more active about answering the questions, but somehow people are asking about stuff in dance I have never heard of. Either it is really specialized terminology or people are making stuff up. (I suspect the former)


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