Top Ten Reasons to Support the Arts

1476672_10153547460280175_1443444834_nRecently, I discovered through one of my fellow Creative Many Board members – Americans for the Arts, an organization  that helps promote “cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America”. What I was intrigued about was their top reasons for supporting the arts.

Typically, I do not like copy/paste other articles in my blog essays, but I will make an exception this time because I feel the reasons warrant inclusion and wide distribution.

10 Reasons to Support the Arts

1. Arts promote true prosperity. The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They enable and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age. When times are tough, art is salve for the ache.

I definitely agree and like that this is the first reason. Using the example of Armenian history, music was that same “salve” that connected us to our history well after the Armenian Genocide. 

2. Arts improve academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates—benefits reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Students with 4 years of arts or music in high school average 100 points higher on the verbal and math portions of their SATs than students with just one-half year of arts or music.

Interesting statistic. A great reason for increased arts and music programs at the elementary level. We speak of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for our children to focus on, which is important, but a balanced program that opens our mind to music and artwork allows for increased creativity which is essential to STEM. 

3. Arts strengthen the economy. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector is a $699 billion industry, which represents 4.3 percent of the nation’s GDP—a larger share of the economy than transportation and agriculture. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually (spending by organizations and their audiences) that supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue.

Certainly an overlooked industry which includes opportunities for grants to both the organization and artists.  

4. Arts are good for local merchants. Attendees at nonprofit arts events spend $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters. Attendees who live outside the county in which the arts event takes place spend twice as much as their local counterparts ($39.96 vs. $17.42)—valuable revenue for local businesses and the community.

When was the last time you visited an art street fair? Several of these artists travel around the state and country promoting their artwork. Support local artists!

5. Arts drive tourism. Arts travelers are ideal tourists, staying longer and spending more to seek out authentic cultural experiences. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that the percentage of international travelers including museum visits on their trip has grown steadily since 2003 (18 to 28 percent). The share attending concerts and theater performances has grown from 14 to 18 percent since 2003.

Check out your local convention visitor bureau statistics on how the arts affects the overall growth of economic development. 

6. Arts are an export industry. U.S. exports of arts goods (e.g., movies, paintings, jewelry) grew to $75 billion in 2012, while imports were just $27 billion—a $47 billion arts trade surplus.

Great news in real dollars!

7. Arts spark creativity and innovation. The Conference Board reports that creativity is among the top 5 applied skills sought by business leaders—with 72 percent saying creativity is of high importance when hiring. The biggest creativity indicator? A college arts degree. Their Ready to Innovate report concludes, “The arts—music, creative writing, drawing, dance—provide skills sought by employers of the 3rd” Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times more likely to be actively engaged in the arts than average scientists.

A great balance between left and right brain can be very productive in the non-art work environment.

8. Arts have social impact. University of Pennsylvania researchers have demonstrated that a high concentration of the arts in a city leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, and lower crime and poverty rates. The arts are used by the U.S. Military to promote troop force and family readiness, resilience, retention and for the successful reintegration of veterans into family and community life.

I wish this statistic was more visible in the media. Arts can touch every aspect of our lives. 

9. Arts improve healthcare. Nearly one-half of the nation’s healthcare institutions provide arts programming for patients, families, and even staff. 78 percent deliver these programs because of their healing benefits to patients—shorter hospital stays, better pain management, and less medication.

I am a true believer in this and have seen many hospitals incorporate art programs in a variety of ways. As hospitals are looking to shorten bed usages, the arts can and have played a vital role. 

10. Arts mean business. The Creative Industries are arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and design companies. A 2015 analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data counts 702,771 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts that employ 2.9 million people—representing 3.9 percent of all businesses and 1.9 percent of all employees.

And this number will continue to rise hopefully in the next five years. 

There is a lot of research that is being done on the effectiveness of having a robust arts and culture plan by individual states. Creative Many is one of the leaders (Ok, I am biased a tad as I sit on their board, but they truly are passionate people!) but you can also read what other communities are doing to promote the arts by visiting the ARTS Blog.

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