The Only Bank Where The Assets Appreciate In Value Upon Withdrawl

Barry Hessenius proved that we often don’t think of the most obvious things in a post he made last weekend encouraging people to create Story Banks to support your advocacy work.

Rather than having to identify an appropriate story every time we might have use for one, a Story Bank is a readily available, ongoing catalog of those stories, which can be used for a myriad of purposes.


Those can chronicle personal impact and value, can preserve the organization’s history and legacy, and can categorize beat practices and past mistakes.  While data and evidence based decision making is essential, stories can give data and evidence meaning, and enhance how we use data and evidence to make smart decisions.  It is our stories, particularly of impact and value, that support the argument of the preference for the intrinsic value of the arts.

I collect social media posts, positive comments, anecdotes, letters, etc into a file on an on going basis to support final grant reports. I don’t want to reach the end of a grant period and be scrambling to gather the materials. However, it never occurred to me to make those files available board and staff members in support of formal and informal advocacy and solicitation efforts.

But rather than waiting on someone to say or write something nice, Hessenius suggests a more active approach. He encourage organizations to survey their staff and board for stories about how the organization or the arts in general have impacted lives (including their own–not just what they might have heard from others). Then turn to donors, supporters and volunteers for their stories and then finally audiences.

Hessenius admonishes readers not to forget to include kids since their stories can be most poignant.

He points to a toolkit FamiliesUSA has assembled about creating and maintain a Story Bank as a resource.

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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