Communicating an arts foundation’s values: sights, sounds and social media

Wilks, Linda (2016). Communicating an arts foundation’s values: sights, sounds and social media. Arts and the Market, 6(2) pp. 206–223.



Purpose This paper tests and refines the long-established signal transmission model of the communication process by examining the ways in which a newly-formed nonprofit arts foundation communicated its professed values to its stakeholders.
Methodological approach The study uses a mixed method case study approach. Interviews with key informants and observations of the foundation’s webpages enabled the identification of the professed values of the arts foundation. Next, a questionnaire survey established whether these values had been successfully decoded by stakeholders and identified the channels via which the values-related signals had been received.
Findings The transmission model was found to be relevant as a model. However, to improve its fit within a nonprofit arts context, a modification to the model is suggested which highlights the importance of multi-sensory channels, the importance of context, and the increasingly important role of the stakeholder.
Research limitations This study is a small-scale case study, although its mixed methods help to ensure validity.
Practical implications The findings will help nonprofit arts organisations to decide on how to best communicate their values to their stakeholders.
Social implications A determination by an organisation to uphold an uplifting range of values, such as those which were found to be transmitted by Folkstock, impacts upon society by the potential contribution to a better quality of life.
Originality /value Literature which provides in-depth examination of the communication of values within a nonprofit arts context via a range of channels, including traditional, online and multi-sensory, is sparse. The opportunity to study a newly-formed nonprofit arts organisation is also rare. The results of this study provide valuable evidence that even in today’s social media-rich world, people, sounds, sights and material objects in physical space still have a vital role to play in the communication of values.

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