Poll: 2012 Elections And The Arts

I had a fascinating conversation with a colleague recently about whether or not a candidate’s position on the arts would be enough of an issue to sway undecided voters. The conversation got me thinking enough that I’m curious to test it out here in a poll.

Granted, this is likely going to be a pro-culture type of crowd but I’m still very curious to see what people think. All I ask is that you be honest and if you have a moment, leave a comment to explain your point of view.

vote

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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13 thoughts on “Poll: 2012 Elections And The Arts”

  1. The health of performing arts funding in this country has been historically connected to the economic health of the private sector,and in particular to those with the interest and financial means to donate. A stagnating economy, business contraction, and the potential of ever higher taxes on this group will inevitably reduce the flow of contributed money to the arts. The deficiency will never be made up by government funding here as the advocating constituancy is politically puny compared to other societal needs and popular desires.

  2. I chose ‘not important’ because I don’t think either major party candidate has any arts POV at all. If asked — and I don’t see any reports of this — my guess is they’d talk about a kind of generic arts thing and not what I think of as ‘hard arts’.

  3. I was thinking mainly in terms of the current US Presidential election when I voted “not important.” I’m not American, but if I were voting in two weeks, I would be doing so based on the social policies advanced by each party, since I consider the social issues at stake in this election to be of fundamental importance. I dislike many elements of both parties’ platforms, but I would tolerate these undesirable policies as “part of the package” in order to support the elements I consider most important. If there was a more diverse selection of political parties to vote for, arts funding would become vitally important, a “tie-breaker” between parties whose social views were aligned with mine. In Canada, for instance, I think I had nine* candidates to choose between in my riding in the last election, and their respective policies on arts funding influenced my vote greatly.

    *Admittedly, only four of those nine had any chance of getting elected, and only two of those political parties have ever formed Canada’s government.

  4. I’m conflicted about government support for the arts. I’d be willing to give up public monies if government support of sports arenas and teams was cut. The most hypocritical statements about this issue comes from conservatives who bemoan the state of pop culture with its gratuitous sex and violence and in the same breath want to abolish the NEA and the NEH.

  5. I’m pretty straightforward about it. If a candidate even hints toward a threat to the NEA or NEH, I’m not voting for them. No candidate is qualified to lead our nation without recognizing and supporting the value of the arts in national culture and educaiton.

  6. Several years ago, we were also watching the way the arts discussion unfolds in the political and other public conversations. And we determined that we’d like to understand better how the public hears this conversation. (“It’s not what we say, it’s what they hear!”) So we spent about a year researching how we might go about building a sense of broad responsibility for the arts.

    We found that there are some widely held, default perspectives on the arts that get in the way of considering the arts a matter of legitimate concern for public funding or other policy. We also uncovered new ways of talking about the arts to BUILD broad support for the arts and avoid the traps in our current dialogue.

    It’s the existing default thinking that makes it possible for proponents of small government to use the NEA and other arts funding as a target, even though the budget amounts are quite small. And probably why so few people would ever think about a candidate’s position on the arts in a voting decision — the question in your survey.

    Because of my deep interest in this topic, I have a bit of an addiction to following media reports (media drives public understanding) about arts funding, including orchestra contract issues, — and the comments on these online posts. It’s easy to see the existing default understandings of the arts play out in those comments: “why should we pay for the entertainment of the elite?”, etc.

  7. Wow – I agree with L Streby at the minimum. Could not have said it better myself. This is definitely a social AND economic issue IMO.

  8. Hi Michael, long time no talk.

    I voted “somewhat important,” because arts and arts education are one part of the big picture.

    As it happens, the sort of candidate who would support arts and arts education is likely to be someone whose other policies (or at least many of them) are also likely to be in alignment with mine anyway.

    Arts and arts education in the U.S. are already unwarrantedly underfunded in the U.S. as it is, alas. This is not likely to change very much for the better anytime soon, no matter who is elected.

  9. Hi Michael, long time no talk.

    I voted “somewhat important,” because arts and arts education are one part of the big picture.

    As it happens, the sort of candidate who would support arts and arts education is likely to be someone whose other policies (or at least many of them) are also likely to be in alignment with mine anyway.

    Arts and arts education in the U.S. are already unwarrantedly underfunded in the U.S. as it is, alas. This is not likely to change very much for the better anytime soon, no matter who is elected.

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