National Arts Engagement Day

Author and marketing guru Seth Godin recently made this suggestion: Invent a Holiday...


Find an emotion that needs social approval in order to be easily expressed.  Hook it into something you sell or do.  Discover other organizations that would benefit from the holiday as much as you would.  Voila! Mother’s Day/Valentine’s Day/Festivus/New Year’s. It doesn’t have to be a national one, of course, just one for your tribe. All the great religious holidays started as secular or pagan holidays first, because they filled an essential social need. Spring is here! It’s dark out!

And if your project/product/cause isn’t worthy of a holiday? Time to find a new one.


As savvy artists, I propose we found National Arts Engagement Day.

Here’s how it works.  On this special annual holiday, families and neighborhoods bond together while experiencing art firsthand in at least two different ways.  

We’re not talking about witnessing someone else’s artistic vision here. Arts Engagement Day isn’t simply about attending a museum, viewing a concert, or watching a play as a passive bystander.  On the contrary, participants take time from their busy lives to assume the role of artist during this extraordinary celebration.  They celebrate their own creative capacity, while experiencing the unparalleled power of the arts to build community, tap into self-discovery, and unleash the imagination. All while having a great time.

To ensure this date lives up to its potential, arts organizations from across the land organize interactive events where children of all ages make crafts, paint murals, invent instruments, improvise scenarios, fashion poetry, design wardrobes, and choreograph movement. Some events address pressing social themes (environmentalism, criminal justice, discrimination), behavioral concepts (leadership, collaboration, considering multiple perspectives), or knowledge expansion (African culture, farming, Romantic literature).  Others are just plain fun.  Arts events are scheduled in concert halls, movie theaters, grocery stores, libraries, public squares, home basements, bridges, and anywhere else conceivable. 

Martin Luther King Day has evolved into a pro-active holiday.  With the slogan “A Day On, Not a Day Off,” it encourages all to offer valuable service to their communities through volunteering.  Similarly, Arts Engagement Day provides a persuasive excuse for participants to get involved while giving the gift of art to themselves and loved ones.  

Imagine what Arts Engagement Day could do for the arts world.  Imagine what it could do for our families.  Imagine what it could do for our society.

What do you think?

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  • Nathan C.

    I think it’s a brilliant idea. I also think it would need to start within a single community. That could be a neighborhood, a city, a national network of museums, etc. But the key point is for someone to take action within a “tribe” that is close-knit enough to have a tangible effect. You want a national movement? Start local and make it awesome. Maybe we should each start our own Arts Engagement Days, and grow them until they expand into one.

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