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Publications: audience development Theme

Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S.

Doug Borwick of the popular ArtsJournal blog Engaging Matters has released a new book, Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S. In Building Communities, Borwick posits that the future success of arts organizations is dependent upon establishing real, deep connections with their communities. The book features the essay “Changing Our Future” by NAS President CEO Russell Willis Taylor, as well as contributions from arts thinkers including NAS Chief Executive Program participants Sebastian Ruth and Dorothy Gunther Pugh with forewords by National Endowment of the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman and Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch.

Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S. »



There Are No Crises, Only Tough Decisions

There are no crises in the arts – there are crises in arts organizations as they are currently constructed. Audiences are not shrinking, they are growing, but they are not necessarily interested in consuming all the art our member organizations produce. Between 1970 and 2010, the number of arts organizations grew from 2,700 to 27,000 but the number of people funding them, and attending their events, did not grow at all. In this keynote address delivered at the joint annual conferences of Chorus America and The League of American Orchestras, Russell Willis Taylor, President and CEO of National Arts Strategies, explores the extraordinary opportunities that arts organizations have today.

Read the text of the speech, “There Are No Crises, Only Tough Decisions”


The Normal Approach

How do we sustain relevance and drive participation for the traditional not-for-profit arts in our communities? This is a recurring challenge for the arts and culture field. In his article for the October 27, 2009 issue of Gig Magazine, NAS Vice President, Jim Rosenberg, suggests that reaching a desired audience requires leaders to focus on the desired customer and work backward to the right artistic work, venue, timing, pricing, etc. This customer-centered approach can serve the core mission of an arts organization if its leaders are willing to challenge the assumptions of the field.

Read the article, “The Normal Approach”