He asked me why I was including these things then. This was an easy question to answer - because people love the cultural stuff - the music, the art, the contests, the humor - all of that. Most enjoy it more than the politics.
My friend added that he's always felt, as an artist, that the path to peoples' political conscience is through their culture. First you have to find out what's important to their hearts - then you can talk to their heads!
I felt better after this conversation - I think I'm on the right track.