Randy Cohen

Almost one year ago, I posted The Top Ten Reasons to Support the Arts in response to a business leader who wanted to make a compelling case for government and corporate contributions to the arts.

Being a busy guy, he didn’t want a lot to read: “Keep it to one page, please.”

With the arts advocacy season once again upon us…(who am I kidding, it’s always upon us!)…here is my updated list for 2012 which now includes new stats from our Arts & Economic Prosperity IV Study.

10 Reasons to Support the Arts

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

2. Improved academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, lower drop-out rates, and even better attitudes about community service—benefits reaped by students regardless of socioeconomic status. Students with four years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with one-half year or less.

3. Arts are an industry. Arts organizations are responsible businesses, employers, and consumers. Nonprofit arts organizations generate $135 billion in economic activity annually, supporting 4.1 million jobs and generating nearly $22.3 billion in government revenue. Investment in the arts supports jobs, generates tax revenues, and advances our creativity-based economy.

4. Arts are good for local merchants. The typical arts attendee spends $24.60 per person, per event, not including the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters. Non-local arts audiences (who live outside the county) spend nearly twice as much as local arts attendees ($39.96 vs. $17.42)—valuable revenue for local businesses and the community.

5. Arts are the cornerstone of tourism. Arts travelers are ideal tourists—they stay longer and spend more. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that the percentage of international travelers including museum visits on their trip has grown annually since 2003 (17 to 24 percent), while the share attending concerts and theater performances increased five of the past seven years (13 to 17 percent since 2003).

6. Arts are an export industry. U.S. exports of arts goods (everything from movies to paintings to jewelry) grew to $64 billion in 2010. With U.S. imports at just $23 billion, the arts achieved a $41 billion trade surplus in 2010.

7. Building the 21st century workforce. Reports by The Conference Board show creativity is among the top-five 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 millennium.”

8. 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.

9. Stronger communities. 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 poverty rates. A vibrant arts community ensures that young people are not left to be raised solely in a pop culture and tabloid marketplace.

10. Creative Industries. The Creative Industries are arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and advertising companies. An analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data counts 904,581 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts that employ 3.3 million people—representing 4.25 percent of all businesses and 2.15 percent of all employees, respectively.

11. What is your #11? Share with us in the comments below…

Keep up the great work!

Arts Watch is the bi-weekly cultural policy publication of Americans for the Arts, covering news in a variety of categories. Subscribe to Arts Watch or follow @artswatch on Twitter to receive up-to-the-minute news.

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18 Responses to “10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2012 (from Arts Watch)”

  1. Eva says:

    Will not damage environmental or public health!

  2. John says:

    #2 is simply not accurate. It implies causation, when in reality the two statements are true only by correlation. The arts do not make us score higher on tests. Those who score higher on tests are simply drawn to the arts as well. I will support the arts with my last dying breath, but we can’t keep using this myth to advocate for ourselves, or we will only be digging a deeper hole for the arts.

    • You’re technically correct, John, but having read this kind of comment quite a lot over the past couple of years, I’m compelled to say that, as a parent, I DON’T CARE whether the statement is causative or correlative. We’re not a university, we’re a society – are we really going to require ourselves to pay attention only to statements that can be proven causative in double-blind scientific studies yadda-yadda-yadda? Or can we PLEASE just start recognizing the common sense fact that involvement in the arts is part of the solution?

      • Brenda Parkerson says:

        I’ve had the great fortune to have been involved in a number of arts education projects including a wonderful dance program in Brooklyn Public Schools run by Brooklyn Ballet. Fact is is that the children look forward to going to school when there are good arts programs – attendance improves. In the Brooklyn Ballet program, teachers claim that the discipline that dance teachers bring to the children finds it’s way back into the classroom. Children are more attentive and motivated. Getting children to school and getting them motivated positively impacts grades in inner city schools. Arts works for these children. Further to this, there is mounting research on the beneficial effects of playing a musical instrument, many of which impact learning.
        Research is important, but it takes time and will always lag behind what we know through considered observation. Parents and educators know that the arts, a healthy environment, healthy food and exercise have a direct impact on our children’s ability to learn and do well at school.

  3. Maxine says:

    cuz Josh Groban says too !!

  4. Art keeps us alive and thinking outside the box.

  5. With out the arts and music . Its like there is no grass and trees. Very one dimensional , and it lacks soft edges this world.

    I am a artisan by by profession that was trying to get a float in the Macys Day parade called “Support the Arts”
    I had it all designed and layed out with conhstructuion crews ready to go. Dancers , musicans famous , ice sculptures , huge urns , paiuntings , mosaics , and out rageous fashion people all in mind for this float. If any one out there wouldf like to help out in this persuit please email me. Thanks , jennifer

  6. […] article was from one of the many blogs I follow, the ArtsBlog of Americans for the Arts. You can read that article here. I shared that article on my personal Facebook, on my Author Page, on Twitter, and on Linked […]

  7. Deepika says:

    because art touches and appeals to everybody’s human side and keeps us feeling compassion because of it’s true and honest nature

  8. It’s a safe haven for youth and teenagers going through difficult transitions, in tough situations at school, and looking for balm for their souls. We owe it to our youth and to our kids to enliven and grow our culture in any way we can!

  9. Randy Cohen says:

    You can find source material for all of these on our website:




  10. Camille Schenkkan says:

    Because art-making is fun. We ignore that part of it, but it’s huge. Being creatively involved feeds us, regardless of what age we are or what our background is.

  11. […] for the Arts’s Randy Cohen offers a 2012 update to his popular Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts post. AFTA also released the latest edition of […]

  12. Chris says:

    11? Legacy.
    How do we know the Mayans, the Egyptians, the Romans?

  13. Pat says:

    #11. Art is a shared experience. It gets us out of our homes and brings us together. And because we don’t all react the same way to hearing/seeing a work of art, it challenges us and opens our minds.

  14. Art Saved My Life. I don’t need any scientific studies to prove it. I’m making a movie to show the world the power of art! :)

  15. […] 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2012 […]

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