Persuading the undecided: An interdisciplinary approach to increase public support for the arts

AuthorKelly Weidner,Dan Moshavi,Omar Shehryar
Published date01 May 2018
Date01 May 2018
Persuading the undecided: An interdisciplinary approach to
increase public support for the arts
Omar Shehryar
|Kelly Weidner
|Dan Moshavi
Montana State University, Bozeman,
Montana, USA
Saint Mary's College, Moraga, CA, USA
Lucas College and Graduate School of
Business, San Jose State University, San Jose,
Omar Shehryar, 332 Jabs Hall, Montana State
University, Bozeman, MT 597173040, USA.
This paper uses an interdisciplinary approach to address the issue of lack of publicsupport for the
arts. The paper utilizes an acquisitionand transactionvalue approach from marketing and eco-
nomic theory to identify 4 segments that vary in the degree to which members of each segment
value and support the arts. Using system 1 and system 2 processing styles as discussed in man-
agement literature, as well as central and peripheral routes to persuasion as studied in psychol-
ogy, the segments are examined in order to understand their potential informationprocessing
styles. Last, using advertising and communication theories, the paper proposes the use of infor-
mation and transformational communication strategies to create better persuasive communica-
tions that match the processing styles of targeted segments of undecided decision makers in
order to garner greater public support for the arts.
Public support for the arts can take place in many ways, such as
funding provided by elected lawmakers for arts programs in the com-
munity and in schools, donations by the private and corporate sectors,
and attendance and financial support for cultural and performing arts
events. Research shows that public support for the arts has increased
among Americans in recent years (Americans for the Arts 2016; However, despite believing that the
arts provide meaning in our lives, only 37% of Americans positively
stated their support for a candidate for political office who would be
in favor of increasing art spending from 45 cents to $1. Further,
despite acknowledgment by an overwhelming majority of Americans
that art institutions add value to our communities, only 27% of
Americans stated that they had donated to an arts, culture, or a public
broadcasting organization within the past year (Americans for the Arts,
2016). Combined with decreases in funding for the arts in public edu-
cation at the elementary and secondary school levels (Fang, 2013), it is
no surprise that the public is ambivalent about its support for the arts.
Whether it is the display of fine art, arts education in school, theater
and the performing arts, or support for culturalevents, it is clear that the
public support of the arts is a vast and complex area of study. For the
purpose of this paper, we consider public support to be financial activi-
ties of individuals that support any of these various categories of the
arts. Given these statistics and combined with a continued need for
funding the arts, this research proposes a framework that addresses a
series of research questions related to public support for the arts. First,
how can public support for the arts gain further traction? Additionally,
how can one better understand the value perspective adopted by sup-
porters, nonsupporters, and, perhaps most importantly, those who are
undecided about supporting the arts? Finally, can an understanding of
how these groups value art helps us design more persuasive communi-
cations that can, in turn, positively influence support for the arts?
To address these issues, we draw from established theoretical
models in psychology, marketing, and management to propose a frame-
work for understanding the dynamics that are at the core of decisions
related to support for the arts. More specifically, we propose that indi-
viduals adopt disparate perspectives toward supporting the arts by
focusing on different types of value of art in their lives and communities.
We begin by describing a model of acquisition and transaction value
proposed by Grewal, Monroe, and Krishnan (1998). This model has been
successfully adopted across multiple disciplines including decision sci-
ences, tourism, economic psychology, and engineering to understand
the value perspectives utilized by decision makers in various situations.
We then propose how the model can be used to determine four differ-
ent segments within the market for public support for the arts and uti-
lize dual processing theories to provide insight into the cognitive
processes of eachof these target segments. Finally, on the basis of these
cognitive processes, we present communication strategies for each tar-
get segment that we believe can yield more support for the arts.
Grewal, Monroe, and Krishnan (1998) state that the value of any
exchange, whether for products or services, is determined by two
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1652
J Public Affairs. 2018;18:e1652.
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, 1of7

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