Controversial Art, Part 4: TL;DR

This is part of a series about controversial art that pulls from an academic paper I wrote.

Marketing theory suggests that if we are able to prove a benefit will be provided to the consumer as a result of viewing controversial material, consumers are more likely to take the content in. Researchers, educators, artists, journalists, and curators can provide a great deal of anecdotal evidence as to the educational and therapeutic benefits of viewing difficult content through the lens of performing and visual arts. Experts from fields as diverse as theatre art and genocide studies agree that the arts are an important, reparative tool for healing; similarly, people ranging from curators to politicians extol the educational benefits of the visual and performing arts.

It would do a service to the field to pursue empirical data that supports these observations; however, it is clear that organizations can use these existing success stories to market sensitive topics by being straightforward about the content and receptive to educational discussions, not by emphasizing the controversy.

By engaging in the form of interactive marketing supported by marketing theorists, arts organizations are able to have a conversation with the public through marketing materials and public relations opportunities. Communicating with the audience in this fashion allows producers to make the case for the work they are showing, as well as to respond to concerns.

As social media interaction becomes an expectation of arts consumers, talking about the benefits of addressing challenging and difficult subject matter will only become easier and more direct, making the press an additional voice, rather than a mouth-piece. Organizations that already engage in marketing that supports the content they produce will be well prepared.

Sources below the break.

Works Cited

“About.” Healing 10 Years Later. 9/11 Arts Project, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.

Arts and Culture. International Association of Genocide Scholars, n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2012.

Bello, Daniel C., Robert E. Pitts, and Michael J. Etzel. “The communication effects of controversial sexual content in television programs and commercials.” APA PsycNET 12.2 (1983): 32-42. Web.

Gobé, Marc. Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands or People. New York: Allworth, 2001. Print.

Jaschik, Scott. “Art and the College Administrator.” Inside Higher Ed. Inside Higher Ed, 10 Mar. 2010. Web. 18 Nov. 2012.

Lankford, Louis E., and David B. Pankratz. “Justifying Controversial Art in Arts Education.” Design for Arts in Education 93.6 (1992): 17-26. EBSCOhost. Web. 18 Nov. 2012.

“Laramie Killing Given Epilogue a Decade Later.” New York Times. Tectonic Theater Project. PDF File. 26 Nov. 2012.

“Lot 54: Photographs, Robert Mapplethorpe, X, Y, Z Portfolios.” Phillips de Pury

& Company. Phillips de Pury & Company, n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2012.

“Resources.” Laramie Project. Tectonic Theater Project, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.

Vartanian, Hrag. “Controversial Afro-Swedish Artist Speaks, ‘It’s a Disturbing Picture But It’s Also a Disturbing Subject.’” Hyperallergic. Hyperallergic, 18 Apr. 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2012.

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