I’ve been thinking a lot about promotion and persuasion recently and I’m convinced that the reason the arts are losing audiences is that we don’t understand the difference.
The culture of arts marketing is one of promotion, of course. Always has been. And this was just fine back when demand was high, but the fact that audiences are in steady decline suggest that we need to be more persuasive, and we don’t seem to know what that means.
Fortunately, the good people at Merriam-Webster online dictionary offer a concise delineation:
Promote: To present a product for buyer acceptance through advertising, publicity, or discounting
Persuade: To move by argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position, or course of action
There it is, right there in the first two words. To promote is to present while to persuade is to move. Promoters offer information in hopes of stimulating pre-existing demand…
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