Arts advocacy campaign case studies and good practice

The International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) has released National arts advocacy campaigns: overview of case studies and good practice, which explores arts advocacy campaigns run by major government arts support agencies such as Arts Council England and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The report focusses on advocacy campaigns that promote appreciation and engagement in the arts among the general population –  not so much ‘lobbying’ campaigns that target government or politicians.

The backbone of the report is eight case studies of actual campaigns – from the USA, UK, and Canada (and two from an country that chooses to remain anonymous!). Case studies describe the campaigns in detail and include links to media resources (such as TV and radio advertisements) and campaign evaluations.

Case study information is combined with responses to a survey of campaign experts to arrive at some ‘good practice’ principles for campaign strategies, tactics, branding, media and lots of other aspects of a campaign. Some of the basic findings are summarised below, but really these are just the tip of the iceberg – the full report contains masses of information and ideas that will provide useful guidance for anyone running an arts advocacy campaign or interested in arts advocacy strategies and tactics.

Summary of main findings

Campaign approaches, aims, strategies and tactics:

  • Good campaigns use a mix of national and local promotions.
  • A campaign should not only have realistic objectives, but should focus on issues that are seen to be valid by others (such as those not ‘in the arts’).
  • A campaign should be flexible enough to respond to unexpected events.
  • A campaign should keep a tight focus on target audience/s and issues.
  • A campaign should limit the number of campaign objectives.

Communications: messages and media used

  • Campaigners should be aware that the term ‘the arts’ can be vague and can have less than desirable associations.
  • Messages and themes should be clear and simple. Multiple messages should be avoided.
  • Media resources should be able to be tailored by local partners (or ‘localised’) – this encourages wide use by partners and local media coverage, which is seen as a powerful campaign tool.
  • Media platforms should be easily reproducible to ensure maximum coverage.
  • In-kind support from advertising agencies and other media producers is indispensable for ensuring communications are up to a quality that will encourage reproduction.

Other campaign aspects

  • Collaborations, partnerships and networks are critical to a campaign’s success, and partners need to have a common understanding about the fundamental elements of the campaign.
  • It is important to utilise partners’ existing expertise and resources, not duplicate them.
  • A campaign should have a dedicated coordinator and budget.
  • Research is critical in designing a campaign and in monitoring and evaluating progress.
  • Evaluation should be ongoing: evaluate the campaign’s effectiveness as the implementation plan unfolds.

The publication is at: National arts advocacy campaigns: overview of case studies and good practice.

IFACCA’s advocacy topic page has other useful resources on the topic.

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