The Arts Ripple Effect

A Research-Based Strategy to Build Shared Responsibility for the Arts


January 2010, 21 pages. Fine Arts Fund, 20 East Central Parkway, Suite 200, Cincinnati, OH, 45202, 513-871-2787,

Supporters of the arts have struggled to develop a national conversation that makes the case for robust, ongoing public support for the arts; but public spending on the arts is too often criticized as an example of wasteful government spending or a misguided government intrusion into an area where it does not belong.

Employing a rich variety of research tools and analytics, Topos Partnership presents a strategy for the public messaging of artwork that address the common default patterns obscuring a sense of public responsibility in this area:

  • The perception of art as entertainment and therefore not mandatory.
  • The opinion that the experience of art is a private, passive experience.
  • The perception that the costs associated with owning or experiencing art requires that art remain subject to the conditions of local and national markets.
  • Consistent identification of the arts as a low funding and resource priority.

Arts advocates must articulate a message that counters these default assumptions and promotes the "ripple effect" of art in a community—the role of the arts in creating a vibrant, thriving economy and a more connected population. Importantly, the report indicates that arguments about financial benefits and development opportunities are not as effective as those that position the arts as a public good that fosters collective responsibility and proactive regional communities.

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