Researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington
Trevor Meagher

Trevor Meagher, MPA
PhD Student
College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs
University of Texas at Arlington

Dr. Karabi C. Bezboruah

Karabi C. Bezboruah, PhD
Professor, Public Affairs and Planning
The University of Texas at Arlington

Jiwon Suh, PhD

Jiwon Suh, PhD
Assistant Professor, Public Affairs and Planning
University of Texas at Arlington

Fighting for Survival: Analyzing Strategic Trends in Arts Advocacy

Trevor Meagher, Karabi Bezboruah, Jiwon Suh

Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing, Volume 29, Issue 1, February 2024

American arts organizations are locked in a continuous fight for their survival as a result of their demanding operational contexts. Virtually every arts organization engages in some form of formal or informal advocacy in order to raise public awareness and secure financial support or political goodwill. While there are almost as many different advocacy strategies as there are arts organizations, studies that trace changes in strategic employment over time are rare, as advocates are typically focused on present issues and the immediate future. This research seeks to address this knowledge gap. Through a systematic review of over 260 scholarly sources, editorials, blogs, think pieces, and miscellaneous other pro-arts arguments, this article identifies five main arguments for supporting the arts that have been commonly used by arts advocates since the inception of the National Endowment for the Arts. This article presents a theoretical typology that is useful for understanding these arguments and the thematic connections between them. It concludes with a discussion of general trends towards strategic isomorphism and research sophistication among these strategies, then offers avenues for future research that may assist arts advocates with evaluating strategies’ success so as to improve their future effectiveness.

Trevor Meagher, MPA, is a PhD student in the College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington. His research interests explore the role of arts organizations in modern society, the nonprofit sector, the cultural economy, creative placemaking, urban identity, cross-sector collaboration, universities, and organizational strategies for achieving local institutionalization. Trevor regularly presents his research at the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action annual conference, and his work is published in the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing. He holds an undergraduate degree in Music Performance with minors in Arts Management and Arts Administration, as well as a Master of Public Administration with a focus in Urban Nonprofit Management.

Karabi Bezboruah, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Public Affairs and Planning at the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA) at the University of Texas at Arlington.Dr. Bezboruah also serves as the director of the two doctoral programs in CAPPA. These are the Public Administration & Public Policy (PAPP), and Urban Planning and Public Policy (UPPP).

Dr. Bezboruah teaches administration and policy courses in the Department of Public Affairs. She teaches the core courses in the Nonprofit Management specialization track and facilitates the graduate Certificate in Urban Nonprofit Management. She applies service-learning pedagogy in her courses, and has worked with community organizations, nonprofits, and local government agencies.

Dr. Bezboruah’s research includes cross sector collaboration, nonprofit management and leadership, strategic management, community development, cross-sector comparisons, NGOs – organizational role, gender role, leadership role & NGO effectiveness. Her work is in the intersection between public policies and organizational behavior, and she frequently collaborates with other disciplines to conduct research on policy issues surrounding health, housing and the environment.

Jiwon Suh, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Public Affairs and Planning at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her research focuses on organizational behavior, performance and accountability, and communication and marketing in the public and nonprofit sectors. She has published articles in several journals including Public Administration Review, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Nonprofit Management & Leadership, Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, and Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing.