Reframing the Arts

Offered by: Arlene Goldbard, Chief Policy Wonk

At-a glance: Learn how our minds work, see arts work differently, and get much better results.

Description: For too long, advocates have been trying (and failing) to justify art’s public purpose with weak secondary effects: art boosts tax revenues through the economic multiplier effect, playing in the school orchestra raises students’ test scores, and so on. The net result is a 30-year decline in arts allocations; for instance, the NEA has lost more than half the real value of its budget since Ronald Reagan took office. These advocacy strategies are too confining and too narrowly conceived to excite public support. A fresh approach is needed.

As cognitive science has been demonstrating, decisions about social issues are based on reasoning that includes emotions, metaphors, stories and other kinds of information, and often these factors matter more than numeric data. Advocates need to connect to resonant emotional themes and images that can really engage people. This workshop expands thinking, creating new containers that are big and strong enough to convey the real and awesome power of human creative expression. Reframing and renewal have to be grounded in exploring the way people actually think about art’s public purpose, and the larger context in which their thinking unfolds. With that grounding, participants try out different ways of seeing, releasing outworn ideas and searching together for new solutions that shine.

Learn more about Arlene.