The Arts Ripple Effect

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

Topos Partnership for the Fine Arts Fund

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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