“I believe the NEA [National Endowment for the Arts] must not only survive, but thrive. … More than dollars, the NEA represents a civilization that values critical and creative thought.” – Robert Redford, Sundance Institute
Art is important and local arts agencies are the root of its strength and survival. So, art makes us feel good, is nice to look at and it is something to center social gatherings around. Also, supporting the arts for art’s sake is a priceless reason to invest, socially or financially, but art has more power than we give daily notice to.
The arts are not limited to paintings hanging on a wall or sculptures displayed in the specifically lit gallery. They include every movie you have seen, park or building you walk through, and song on the radio… The arts are a fundamental pillar in our American economy, income from made-in-America exports, healthcare, and tourism, to name a few.
Despite the numerous benefits of the arts, fiscal and cultural, “At 7am on March 16th, the new Trump Administration released their budget proposal to fund the federal government for the coming fiscal year (FY2018). The proposal includes the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), among other federal agencies.” as stated on the Arts Action Fund website.
The National Endowment for the Arts is popular among members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Yet President Trump’s proposed budget calls for a total elimination of funding for the NEA. Now it’s up to Congress to decide — and up to us to remind Congress of the value of the arts. Contact your elected representatives and ask them to #SAVEtheNEA: bit.ly/2k1vrd3
Now, especially considering the possible funding changes at the federal level, the arts need to be well understood and looked at with more pragmatic eyes.
1. Arts improve individual well-being. 63 percent of the population believe the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences,” 64 percent feel the arts give them “pure pleasure to experience and participate in,” and 73 percent say the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world.”
2. Arts unify communities. 67 percent of Americans believe “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity” and 62 percent agree that the arts “help me understand other cultures better”—a perspective observed across all demographic and economic categories.
3. Arts improve academic performance. Students engaged in arts learning have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates. The Department of Education reports that access to arts education for students of color is significantly lower than for their white peers, and has declined for three decades. Yet, research shows that low socio-economic-status students have even greater increases in academic performance, college-going rates, college grades, and holding jobs with a future. 88 percent of Americans believe that arts are part of a well-rounded K-12 education.
4. Arts strengthen the economy. The arts and culture sector is a $730 billion industry, which represents 4.2 percent of the nation’s GDP—a larger share of the economy than transportation, tourism, and agriculture (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis). The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually (spending by organizations and their audiences), which supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue.
5. Arts are good for local businesses. 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—valuable revenue for local commerce and the community. 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).
6. Arts drive tourism. Arts travelers are ideal tourists, staying longer and spending more to seek out authentic cultural experiences. Arts destinations grow the economy by attracting foreign visitor spending. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that, between 2003-2015, the percentage of international travelers including “art gallery and museum visits” on their trip grew from 17 to 29 percent, and the share attending “concerts, plays, and musicals” increased from 13 to 16 percent.
7. Arts are an export industry. The arts and culture industries had a $30 billion international trade surplus in 2014, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. U.S. exports of arts goods (e.g., movies, paintings, jewelry) exceeded $60 billion.
8. Arts spark creativity and innovation. Creativity is among the top 5 applied skills sought by business leaders—with 72 percent saying creativity is of high importance when hiring. The Conference Board’s Ready to Innovate report concludes, “The arts—music, creative writing, drawing, dance—provide skills sought by employers of the 3rd millennium.” Research on creativity shows that Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times more likely to be actively engaged in the arts than other scientists.
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.
10. Arts and healing in the military. The arts are part of the military continuum—promoting readiness during pre-deployment as well as aiding in the successful reintegration and adjustment of Veterans and military families into community life. Service members and Veterans rank art therapies in the top 4 (out of 40) interventions and treatments.
This information and more can be found in this post written by Randy Cohen and on the Americans For The Arts website.
With all of this said, let’s get out and do our part in making a difference. Walk through the galleries downtown or go to a movie. Sit in Main Street Square – that exists because of our natural hunger and need for the arts. Drive there in your car that was designed by an artist who happens to work wearing an engineer’s name tag.
Now open your favorite social media app and use let our Senators know that we need to #SAVEtheNEA!