Nebraskans for the Arts, the state’s advocacy organization for public arts funding and arts education, is based out of Omaha, the city drawing half of the state’s arts and culture economic impact according to AEP IV. It felt only fitting to make the initial announcement of the study findings here.
The impact of the arts has changed the face of Omaha: from the Holland Center’s masterful concert hall, to the mural projects of Kent Bellows Studio and Center for the Visual Arts and the burgeoning theater scene epitomized by BLUE BARN Theatre and Omaha Community Playhouse—the latter boasting as the largest community theater in the nation. These organizations are some of those who proudly took part in the economic impact survey and are eager to use the findings in their board rooms, grant applications, and business sponsorships.
We’re a community who invests in the arts—and the AEP IV launch spoke to this. Nebraskans for the Arts was honored at the quick acceptance of both Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle and Greater Omaha Chamber President and CEO David Brown to speak at the press conference. We were also bolstered by Todd Simon, senior vice president and family owner of Omaha Steaks, a long time supporter of the arts community, agreeing to share remarks. It showed the civic and business interests of the city can be paired with its philanthropic community—that these entities and individuals value the arts as an industry as well as their fundamental value to individuals.
I personally attended the AEP IV media training conducted just prior to the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in June. It was an invaluable lesson in how to appear on camera, but it also helped me articulate the key points I really wanted to drive home in discussing the findings for Omaha and the state of Nebraska.
Some of the sound bites that stuck with me:
“You can feel the impact of the arts in the restaurants before and after theatrical productions, you can see it in the crowded streets during the Summer Arts Festival, you can hear it from hotels reaping the benefit of overnight visitors. The arts are a cornerstone to tourism and economic development. They contribute so noticeably to a city being a place where someone wants to live, work, and play.”
I agree with our hometown paper, and will take it one step further—the arts make our city a masterpiece.