Arts Council of Beaufort County (SC) Ask Supporters to Stuff Ballot Box for Top Art Destination

We have reported in the past on the results of AmericanStyle Magazine’s (www.americanstyle.com) voting results to determine the Top Art Destinations – including cities in North Carolina and South Carolina. It was my understand that the voting was done by readers of the magazine, but I recently received an e-mail from the Arts Council of Beaufort County in Beaufort, SC, asking their supporters to vote for Beaufort to get them further up the list – and, giving them a link to the voting site.

Is this right or fair game for such polls?

In 2008, Beaufort was #14 on a list of 25 Top Art Destinations in the small town category and in 2009 they reached up to #12. Was this a lift by actual readers of the magazine or by supporters in the Beaufort area? Who’s to know now that we know the arts council is asking folks to stuff the ballot. Not much was added to the community during that year to make it a better art community.

In 2009, in the small town category, Asheville, NC, was #2, Beaufort, SC, #12 and Chapel Hill, NC, #13. I’d have some problem comparing Beaufort over Chapel Hill in any arts category. It is a great small art town, but ranking over Chapel Hill – home of the University of North Carolina and all its art offerings – come on.

I don’t hold much stock in these kinds of rankings – mostly because we never know any details about the voting process or the final totals the rankings are based on. Like many of these kind of rankings by publications – for all we know – 10 votes could make you a “Best of” in some town and we never know if you get extra credit for advertising with the publication.

Like most announcements presented these days stating that drinking wine is good for your heart and drinking milk is good for your diet – without knowing who is presenting the report, who paid for it, and seeing the full details of the report – we can’t be sure what to make of the headlines. And, I don’t think a lot of people want you to go beyond the headlines.

I agree that Beaufort, SC, is a great small town arts destination, I have compared it as a mini Charleston at times, but on a national ranking, #12 might be stretching it some – without knowing more facts and who participated in the process.

I guess we’ll see how successful their campaign was when the 2010 rankings come out.

I think these polls are designed more to generate something people can advertise in the publications that host the polls. Why not just sell them to the highest bidders? For all we know – that might be what’s going on now.

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