Partnership is the future of arts support in this country. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at a few indicators:
- HUD launched a $100 million Sustainable Communities Planning Grant program earlier this year in an effort to create stronger, more sustainable communities in the U.S. They placed an emphasis on planning processes engaging in non-traditional partnerships (including arts and culture) – a move supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.
- The Kresge Foundation, long known for its capital challenge grants, is now considering how the different disciplines (e.g. arts and culture, health and human services, education) approach their work differently, but are really working toward the same end – the creation of “exceptional communities.”
- The BCA Triennial Survey of the Arts suggests that 61% of businesses are motivated to support organizations that “offer programs that tie into social causes such as hunger, violence and homelessness.”
Often I talk with artists and arts organizations who ask me “When are we going to be able to stop talking about the ancillary benefits of arts and culture [economic development, education, neighborhood development] and get back to what we’re really about – art?” This concerns me, because it suggests that our discussion of the arts’ role in these activities is mere messaging alone – a means to help other people understand our work so they will fund us for the stuff that is harder to explain. It suggests the arts community itself doesn’t believe all of those things are core to the arts. They are. To suggest otherwise devalues the arts. It traps us into a paradigm from which we cannot escape, and to a set of diminishing resources.
Our future rests in how we, the arts sector, embrace the full scope of our value as our CORE purpose; for how we define ourselves will impact how the world sees us and the resources that are available to us. So, do you believe it’s possible to support education, economic development, health and human services, workforce development, youth development and social justice, while simultaneously lifting the human spirit? I do. And, together we do it through an investment in the arts.