How effective impact measurement can boost support for the arts

In more than eight years of reporting on the arts, a major problem often highlighted in the industry is inadequate funding and corporate reluctance to fund the arts due to its lack of financial performance.

Corporate organizations are willing to support concerts / music festivals, film projects and variety shows like BBNaija, but rarely do so for theater, dance, art exhibitions / festivals for lack of visible returns on investment and immediate.

Uninvolved in business, Nigerian artists have found it difficult to communicate the impact of art in society to funders, as they believe that the arts have more socio-emotional impact than economic. While it is true that art has a huge socio-cultural impact in a society, it has a great economic impact, and as this article reveals has an even greater scientific impact through which it can influence the economic development of ‘a nation if deployed wisely. It all depends on what art form you measure and how you measure it.

Lisette Reuters of Un-Label Performing Group, a theater troupe of versatile artists (artists with and without disabilities) focused on enhancing inclusion in the performing arts, measuring artists’ knowledge, abilities and performance. public perspective. Before and after Un-Label’s performances or advice on inclusiveness with theater organizations, it measures the knowledge acquired by the organization’s staff and whether they feel more equipped or able to work inclusively. As for artists, it measures whether they are involved in more mixable productions or whether they have hired more disabled artists. It also measures the audience’s perspective for finding out the impact of the arts by examining whether there is a change in the number of audience members with disabilities.

But in measuring the impact on people with disabilities, the process shifts from measuring the socio-psychological impact to measuring their participation and the value of inclusive arts in a society. The disabled Finnish dancer, Marja Karhunen, believes that the more diverse the group of people contributing to the arts, the more value they add to it; and the more representation we see on stage, the more it reflects our society and the more perspectives change.

“I think it’s stupid to say, you are the handicapped, or you are the black one. It’s simplifying people. I think diversity matters. While I think statistics are very important for convincing funders, for the arts to reflect the diversity of a society, the important thing to measure, “Karhunen said,” is who participates and who is represented. ?

As South African FTHK choreographer and artistic director Jayne Batzofin best puts it, just as society must avoid the danger of the one story, it must also avoid the danger of the unique form of theater – the theater that does not exist. address only to capable people. body.

But more dangerous than the unique form of theater is the limitation of the arts as mere entertainment. It went beyond that. Art has a scientific impact. Unlike a music concert or comedy show that draws hundreds and thousands of people at once, a dance, theater, or art exhibition can never attract this kind of crowd (although Art X, the Art Biennials prove the contrary). In fact, such a crowd could detract from the purpose of the arts event, said Jos Repertory Theater (JRT) and Jos Festival of Theater (JFT) artistic director Dr Patrick Jude-Oteh.

The arts, he said, rely on a smaller but quality crowd, some of the audience members of which are the decision-makers in society who can galvanize policy changes (unlike comedy shows where l ‘we just laugh at the problem without any real change happening).

The arts can be deployed for scientific purposes like the US Kennedy Center did after the 2011 Twin Tower bombing through its Arabesque Festival. The festival aimed to discern the thoughts of the Middle Arab – by supporting performances of dance, music, theater and visual art that portray Arab people, society and culture. The center has deployed a similar strategy to examine the reason for the sudden arrival of Indian CEOs ready to tackle emerging economic issues of the 21st century by supporting a multitude of artistic productions to understand their journey and motivation.

Nigeria, Oteh said, can deploy a similar strategy in the current conflict to engender unity by using the arts to examine the roots of conflict, ethnic mindsets and culture to promote understanding and respect among Nigerians. .

Still on the scientific impact of art, the arts function as a subliminal message and as a promotional tool. Oteh illustrates this point by noting that being exposed to the Czech play Rossum’s Universal Robots (RUR), Nigerians who have been transported to a different culture and place by viewing the play, are more likely to identify with and patronize the Czech product than against a Polish one.

On the other hand, by offering its potential customers free tickets to the play, a Czech mattress company gives the impression of generosity and value to its customers.

But until Nigerian artists learn to see their art beyond entertainment, and as serious business rather than ad-hoc thing, it will never get far, Oteh said.

By ad-hoc, he implies, something to be done occasionally between long periods of time, say two months.

“They don’t think about using the gathering of 12 ambassadors, 6 deputy ambassadors and government officials they have on the ground during a production. They don’t think, “What other jobs can I get from RUR?” Or how many jobs can I create among the 160 people I summoned today? “

“Grants are not giveaways. Artists must stop viewing grants as gifts. And show the impact of what you received from this grant to accomplish, ”says Oteh.

And that’s exactly what Oteh did, measuring the impact of the 9th, 10th and 11th editions of JFT in Jos, Plateau State. The result was revealing. Using a fish vendor, Linda as a case study, he found that although not a festival participant, but due to her activity near the festival venue, west of Mines Street, she recorded an increase in sales from a daily income of N5000, to N12,000 during the festival to one month after. Likewise, beverage vendors and hoteliers.

While offering rooms to JFT guests at discounted rates, the hotels saw their business and profits increase by earning N195,000 per month to earn a similar amount on festival week, hosting the performers and the influx of visiting relatives or friends who they entertain and lodge at the hotel.

So the next time you as an artist or arts group are looking for support / grant for your project, think beyond entertainment; and consider your potential funders – are their numbers / are they analytical or are they socio-emotionally oriented? – and craft a data measure that works best for them.


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