Gifts given to the Exhibit Research and Development Fund help JFA design, print, construct, test, maintain, and transport its large-format campus outreach exhibits, smaller exhibits, other dialogue kiosks, and museum-quality brochures in order to draw a large number of pro-choice advocates to engage in life-changing conversations during its outreach events. This fund also helps JFA create smaller versions of these exhibits for preparing volunteers during training seminars.
Our culture is filled with people increasingly distracted by smart phones and entertainments, so in order to get the conversation started about the uncomfortable topic of abortion, we must, in a sense, "distract" people with something more interesting and engaging than what is on their phone. We believe that our large-format exhibits, combined with the conversations our volunteers help to generate around them, get people interested and engaged in the topic of abortion. Since the content of our current large-format exhibit hasn't changed in 15 years, we believe we need to change the content more frequently in order to draw more students, both on campuses where we have worked before and on new campuses.
We are aiming to create two new exhibits for testing in 2016, and then we plan to use what we've learned to create at least one new exhibit every two years after that. In this way, we are seeking to infuse our large-format exhibit program with the same R&D spirit that has historically infused our outreach events with smaller new dialogue tools (such as our poll tables, free speech boards, and kiosk signs).
How JFA's Large-Format ExhibitS Help Create ConversationS
In order to create thousands and thousands of conversations with pro-choice advocates, JFA works with student clubs on university campuses to produce large-format exhibit events that are a catalyst to conversation, motivating otherwise disinterested students to stop and discuss abortion. The exhibit events function as catalysts to conversation that change minds in at least four ways:
- The exhibits draw students to talk. Sometimes, they draw a modest number of students, and at other times, the exhibits draw a crowd. That crowd in turn draws more interest and engages more onlookers.
- Our staff and volunteers then engage people in conversation about the unborn child and abortion. Once the conversation has been started, the exhibits then function as a common visual library or reference point that helps staff and volunteers keep the conversation about abortion productive.
- Some students don’t stop and talk with us at our outreach exhibits, but the exhibits still help them begin thinking about abortion differently. When a student passes by the exhibits, pictures and text related to the humanity of the unborn and the reality of abortion begin educating them about abortion and sometimes cause them to discuss it with their peers.
- Finally, These events have many times been covered in the campus newspaper, making them visible to the majority of the student population on the campus and furthering the conversation well beyond the immediate footprint of the exhibits.