There are so many causes to which we can lend our hard-earned money… yet when giving or considering giving to the arts, it’s important to remember that we are actually giving back. The arts are crucial to our society, our economy and our daily lives but many don’t realize it, choosing to see it as mere entertainment; an extra; a whipped topping; a decoration. It’s high time people saw the arts industry for what it really is: a foundation for success, starting with our youth.
According to Americans for the Arts, students who participate in arts programs are 3 to 4 times more likely to have academic achievements, serve in the student government, enter a math or science competition, or win an academic award. President Obama was quoted in the 2010-2011 Greater Washington Catalogue for Philanthropy as saying, “it is the painter, the author, the musician and the historian whose work inspires us to action, drives us to contemplation, stirs joy in our hearts, and calls upon us to consider our world anew.”
|Arts Advocacy Day 2011 in Washington, D.C.|
The arts can definitely make a speech sound good, but that’s not the only value the industry brings to Capitol Hill. The arts mean business, serving as a VIP soldier in the battle to rescue the economy. AFTA has produced some rather inspiring numbers about the non-profit arts and culture industry, like that it supports the equivalent of 5.7 million full-time jobs (that’s more if you account for all of the part-timers out there) and that it generates $104.2 billion in household income. The industry is also responsible for $7.9 billion in local government revenue, $9.1 billion in state government revenue and $12.6 billion in federal income tax.
The impact of the arts on business (and the arts as a business) is discussed in detail on this episode of “Office Hours,” produced by the University of Wisconsin Madison. Host Ken Goldstein talks with Andrew Taylor, director of the UW Business School’s Bolz Center for Arts Administration, about how the arts can benefit the economy in several ways and what it means for society when funding is cut from public programs.
|Andrew Taylor, director of Bolz Center for Arts Administration|
AFTA’s vice president of research and policy Randy Cohen recently wrote a blog post that is making the rounds for its “Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.” There were plenty of broad statements like “total prosperity” and “stronger communities,” but the list got a lot more specific, too. He cited studies that linked arts in schools to better SAT scores and academic performance, as well as tourism spikes credited to artsy attractions (the typical tourist or attendee at art functions can spend around $27 a person).
|Randy Cohen, VP of Research and Policy at AFTA|
As for The Art League’s local contribution, the organization supports the equivalent of 163 jobs, generates $268,562 in local taxes and fees, and pays $278,545 in states taxes. Our gallery is free, making beautiful art accessible to all people, and it provides exhibit opportunities to nearly a thousand artists. The Art League School teaches around 7,500 students every year in classes and workshops and the outreach department sponsors SOHO (Space Of Her Own), a year-long outreach program to low-income, at-risk 5th grade girls. The Geri Gordon Scholarship Fund has paid tuition for over 125 adults and children to date who could not otherwise afford to take classes at The Art League School.
|The Art League School instructor Rob Liberace doing a demonstration at 2008 Paint Alexandria|
Please support The Art League’s ongoing projects, outreach programs, education and gallery by visiting the organization’s page at Spring2ACTion, an annual collective fundraiser in Alexandria. The 3-day giving event kicks off May 5th and presents an ideal opportunity for locals to return those favors to the arts. The idea behind the online fundraising community is to introduce non-profits to new donors, refresh the relationships with established ones, and give the organizations a chance to increase their funding through matching challenges.