Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2014

Posted by Randy Cohen On March - 20 - 2014
Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

There is an old quote attributed to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich:

“If any man will draw up his case, and put his name at the foot of the first page, I will give him an immediate reply. Where he compels me to turn over the sheet, he must wait my leisure.”

This was the charge given to me by a business leader who needed to make a compelling case for government and corporate arts funding:

“Keep it to one page, please,” was his request. “I can get anyone to read one page.”

With the 2014 arts advocacy season upon us, the following is my updated “Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”

  • Which of these would you rank as #1?
  • Do you have a #11 to add?
  • Tell us in the comments below!

You can download this handy 1-pager here.

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

2. Arts improve academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates—benefits reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Students with 4 years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with just one-half year of arts or music. Read the rest of this entry »

Bigger than Baseball: The Power of Economic Impact Data

Posted by Lydia Antunes Black On August - 16 - 2013
Lydia Black

Lydia Antunes Black

When we partnered with Americans for the Arts to conduct an Arts & Economic Prosperity ™ customized economic impact study for Lee County , we were expecting to gain numbers—quantitative benchmarks against which we could eventually measure our progress.  We did get numbers, and plenty of them, but the value of the data exceeded all of my expectations.  Our community’s Arts & Economic Prosperity story is about funding and advocacy.  But above and beyond that, it is about the new ways we found of connecting to one another within the nonprofit arts sector and nationally through the data collection process. It’s about how we learned an entirely new language that has allowed inroads into business and government through the analysis and report.  Our community’s story is about rallying the many groups doing important work on the ground, and helping to bring us together through our shared goal of supporting the arts in Lee County.  This report belongs to us all.  That is why, despite our organization growing from 300 members to 1000, or turning around a deficit into a balanced budget, the customized Arts & Economic Prosperity report is still the piece I am most proud of in my tenure as Executive Director.

The Lee County Alliance for the Arts works hard to support itself, a truth supported by the fact that earned revenue accounts for more than 80 percent of our operating budget.  For that reason, we carefully considered our decision to spend those dollars on an economic impact study.  But there is no doubt in my mind that the return on investment has more than made up for it.  Today, we are still reaping the benefits of our commitment.  Before the study, we were not speaking the same language as our business and government leaders. With the economic impact findings, we are now able to prove, with hard numbers and data, that the arts community is a socio-economic driver and an important partner in the economic revitalization of Lee County.  We, the nonprofit arts community, are part of the solution. Read the rest of this entry »

Branding Your Neighborhood, Town, or City

Posted by Cally Vennare On June - 24 - 2013

Cally Vennare

Cally Vennare

How do you utilize the arts to foster civic identity, cultivate tourism, and brand your city, town or neighborhood?

Four arts leaders. Four diverse markets. Four distinct audience segments. While the cities and circumstances may differ, their authentic and creative approach to problem solving, consensus building, and collaboration did not. Here are their key insights and takeaways from last week’s 2013 Americans for the Arts Convention.

Andrew M. Witt, St. Johns Cultural Council (St. Augustine, Florida)
“Be real. Find the asset in the community that is going to be of interest to someone not in your community and sell that in a realistic way. The worst thing that can happen is to not meet (customer) expectations. If you don’t, they’ll tell 10 people; if you exceed expectations, they’ll tell 2 people. So you have to deliver on the promise you made.”
Learn more about the work of the St. Johns Cultural Council here.  

Robert Vodnoy, Aberdeen University/Civic Symphony (Aberdeen, South Dakota)
“The lesson in all the different stories that I told you is: the general impulse of the community is to have civic pride and not want to touch the stories that are problematic. Or to sanitize them. But I think the cultural tourist is more interested in the whole story. So I think the challenge is to get the civic identity to embrace its complete self, and not to walk away from what is actually a rich story just because it’s a little ‘icky.’ It’s a tougher story, but it’s a much more interesting narrative. Embrace the dark side.”
Learn more about the Aberdeen University/Civic Symphony here. Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Bruney

Laura Bruney

In front of a sold-out crowd of almost 150 hospitality executives, arts directors and community leaders at the Intercontinental Miami; the Arts & Business Council’s annual Breakfast with the Arts & Hospitality Industry got off to a rousing start. George Neary from the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau welcomed participants by exclaiming, “Miami is what the world wants to be!”

Much of the “Miami” brand features the arts and our world class cultural community. Art Basel Miami Beach is well known for attracting cultural tourists. But it is not alone.

Music fans from around the world come for Ultra Music Festival; half a million arts lovers come for the Coconut Grove Arts Festival; architect buffs visit the New World Center on Miami Beach and take art deco walking tours hosted by Miami Design Preservation League; and, film enthusiasts flock to the Miami International Film Festival. Read the rest of this entry…

(This post, originally published on KnightArts.org, is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)

8 Ways a Cultural Event Can Transcend Genre, Geography & Demographics

Posted by P. Scott Cunningham On April - 24 - 2013
P. Scott Cunningham

P. Scott Cunningham

Three years ago, a group of friends and I started to dream up what a lot of people considered impossible: a festival that would bring poetry to all 2.6 million residents of Greater Miami.

At that time, Miami’s cultural scene was exploding. Art Basel was in full force, and we wanted to do a festival that was the opposite of the “pipe-and-blazer” readings that most people associate with poetry. We wanted to do a festival that reflected Miami’s diversity and personality.

Knight Foundation had just finished the first round of its famous Random Acts of Culture™ and we liked how those events turned everyday events into cultural occasions. What if did something like that? What if we did it every day for a month?

And that’s how O, Miami was born. In the poetry festival’s first year, we did 45 events and 19 projects in a 30-day span, and almost none of them had a recognizable headliner. (You can get a taste for it in a new report being published this week.)

As we headed into our second full incarnation of the festival this month, we wanted to share a few of the things we learned about engaging new audiences and creating a cultural event that transcends geography, genre, and demographics… Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Storhoff

Tim Storhoff

For this Blog Salon, I really had to stop and think about what would make Tallahassee a better place in general and for the arts.

While Tallahassee has been the butt of many jokes in films and television, it’s actually a very vibrant place with a lot going on. In addition to being the state capital, it is the home to Florida State University and Florida A&M University, both of which have accomplished performing and visual arts programs, and annual events like the Seven Days of Opening Nights Festival regularly bring in world-class artists that otherwise would not be found in cities of this size.

After talking with a coworker and comparing Tallahassee to similarly sized cities, however, it all made sense. We’re missing a river.

A natural landmark like a river or a lake near the center of a city creates an important focus point for developers and provides key elements to that city’s sense of place. Tallahassee is very spread out with a few different pockets of activity, but it lacks a centralized, pedestrian-friendly area to define it.

I’ve previously lived in Fargo and Iowa City. While smaller than Tallahassee, they both have pedestrian-friendly downtown areas near a river where businesses, restaurants, and the arts are thriving. Digging a river in Tallahassee would probably be a poor choice. Thankfully efforts are already underway to create a centralized destination district that can bring together the city’s various communities through arts and culture.  Read the rest of this entry »

Emily Peck

Emily Peck

Last week, I left snowy New York City to spend some time in sunny Ft. Lauderdale at the invitation of the Broward Cultural Division to talk with arts organizations about the many ways they can partner with local businesses.

We discussed how to build a successful and meaningful partnership by thinking of the needs of business first, and how to look beyond the usual suspects when thinking about potential business partners.

We were joined by local business leaders from Florida Power and Light and Merrimac Ventures who spoke about how partnering with the arts helped their business engage new customers, reach new audiences, and enhance the quality of life for their communities. For more tips on creating partnerships check out our Building pARTnerships on Your Own toolkit.

This type of training session is just one way you can use the resources of The pARTnership Movement in your community. Here are some other ideas:

  • Tell your story: Promote great arts and business partnerships on twitter (#artsandbiz), Facebook, and YouTube. Don’t forget to let us know, too!

Former President Learning to Paint in His Retirement

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 11 - 2013

In his retirement, President George W. Bush has been spending time learning how to become a better painter.

He recently hosted an artist from Georgia at his Florida home for about a month as she taught “43″ and his sister-in-law new techniques. The former President began by painting portraits of dogs, but artist Bonnie Flood says he graduated to landscapes and has a natural talent.

FOX 5 in Atlanta aired this report late last week:

Although we often think of arts education as a K–12 activity, lifelong learning in the arts is something we can’t forget about. Even world leaders can experience the pleasure of discovering a new art form late in life!

Laura Bruney

The 2012 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, which ended on December 9, featured the perfect marriage of arts and business. Hundreds of high-end companies hosted private parties; pop up exhibitions and roving ads on cars, carts, and even people. Millions of dollars in art sales, restaurant meals, hotel rooms, and luxury car rentals exchanged hands.

This year’s massive six-day extravaganza featured thousands of the world’s top galleries showcasing art work worth more than $2.5 billion. The growing economy and booming arts market translated into sales for the week that exceeded $500 million.

The Basel spinoffs included 22 satellite fairs that converted Miami into a rambling art lovers paradise. From South Beach to Wynwood, from North Miami to Coral Gables, from Pinecrest to South Dade—there were museums, galleries, and unique spaces featuring thousands of works of art, special events, and cultural happenings.

Corporate marketing executives took notice. The way brands connect with consumers takes many forms. Partnering with an event like Art Basel and the related activities provides the opportunity for direct contact with new customers.

Hundreds of companies were looking to capture the attention of the 500,000+ arts aficionados that descended on Miami and Miami Beach for the week. Brand managers rented museums, galleries, warehouses, gardens, and clubs to showcase their products in an artsy atmosphere. Read the rest of this entry »

500 Artists, Gardens Celebrate Florida’s 500th Birthday

Posted by Xavier Cortada On December - 17 - 2012

On Easter Sunday 1513, Ponce de Leon landed his three ships on the eastern shore of the peninsula where I live.

Claiming the land for Spain, he named the place La Florida, (for the Spanish word “flor” or flower) because of the lush landscape and because of the day the explorers arrived, Pascua florida, Easter.

As we approach the 500th anniversary of this encounter, I am working through the Florida International University College of Architecture + The Arts to develop FLOR500, a participatory art, nature, and history project that encourages participants to explore Florida’s natural wonder:

Indeed, I wanted to create an art project that allowed our inhabitants to understand the multicultural origins of our state, its fragile biodiversity, and its threatened coastlines. So I took the father of the Fountain of Youth mythology and his historic milestone as a point of departure to explore ways of rejuvenating “the Sunshine State.” Read the rest of this entry »

Creating, Collaborating, Connecting with Art, Activism, and the Internet

Posted by Xavier Cortada On December - 5 - 2012

Xavier Cortada

At the end of the last millennium, when the internet was young, I installed two webcams in my studio and invited people watching me out in cyberspace to share their ideas in a chat room. I would incorporate their views into the murals I was creating in my “webstudio.”

Back then, I was painting collaborative message murals to address important social concerns in different locations around the world (AIDS in Africa, child welfare in Bolivia, peace in Northern Ireland gangs in Philadelphia).

The collaborative murals mattered because I wanted to amplify people’s voices, share their concerns. I wanted to expand the circle of participants beyond those I could reach in person. The webcams and the webstudio were my way of trying to expand beyond geographic boundaries. Back then, I think the farthest I got from my Miami studio was Atlanta.

Since then, technology has developed to a level where online and human interaction has revolutionized communication to an extent unimaginable when I first created that early project. Art making can have exclusively online manifestation, reaching millions in space and time. It is indisputable that one can also build a sense of community online—ask Facebook.

We have even created realms where we can have second lives fully inhabit a completely virtual reality. And that is good: I find participatory art projects that engage individuals locally across communities to be address global concerns very powerful. Read the rest of this entry »

BCA10 Awards Showcase pARTnerships (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Laura Bruney On November - 8 - 2012

Laura Bruney

When business supports the arts, everyone profits. I had the honor of serving as a judge for The BCA 10 awards this year and found tangible evidence that this is true.

The annual awards recognize 10 U.S. companies for their exceptional commitment to the arts. We evaluated nominees from across America—from small mom and pop companies to mega multi-national firms, the businesses we judged were all making valuable contributions to the arts that were paying dividends for their employees, their clients, and their communities. The value of the arts is proven over and over in neighborhoods, cities, states, and our nation.

Deciding the winners was difficult. I was impressed with all of the nominees. As a member of the Americans for the Arts Private Sector Council, I was gratified to see such a wide variety of enterprises that treasure and support  the arts. After much consideration and comparison 10 amazing winners were selected.

The winners were honored in October at an evening gala at the Central Park Boathouse in New York City and the representatives from the winning companies all had something important to say about why the arts matter.

Alltech believes the arts are essential to creating a strong community. They sponsor cultural programs across Kentucky that impact more than 500,000. In accepting the award Pearse Lyons, president and founder, sent a clear message about his sustained support for the arts. When other companies cut back on the arts, Alltech cuts forward. Read the rest of this entry »

A Busy Summer for the Arts Action Fund

Posted by admin On September - 20 - 2012

The Americans for the Arts Action Fund, in partnership with NAMM: National Association of Music Merchants, The Recording Academy (GRAMMYs), and The United States Conference of Mayors partnered together to sponsor programs at both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention with the help of the respective local arts agencies in Tampa and Charlotte (Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Arts & Science Council).

It all began with two events in Tampa for the Republican National Convention.

The first was ArtsSPEAK, a policy forum on the future of the arts and arts education. The second was ArtsJAM, an intimate concert performance featuring national recording artists celebrating the arts.

To kick things off, Arts Action Fund President Bob Lynch welcomed RNC delegates to ArtsSPEAK in Tampa:

Later, he was joined by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who moderated the panel of elected officials, advocates and arts leaders. Featured speakers included: Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert; Mesa (AZ) Mayor Scott Smith; Hillsborough County School Board Member Doretha Edgecomb; Tampa Bay Times Marketing Director Kerry O’Reilly; and Jazz Musician/Former New York Yankee Bernie Williams.

You can listen to the full event via SoundCloud:

Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts: Making a Difference at the DNC

Posted by Robert Lynch On September - 7 - 2012

Bob Lynch at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.

The Convention Halls are creative chaos. The streets are jammed with animated participants holding placards, engaged in heated dialogue and performing all kinds of issue-based street theater. The scent of policy is in the air. And it’s just the way I like it.

Here at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, the role of the arts is alive and well. What you see on TV is only part of what happens. Inside, actual policy is being discussed—not just broad themes, not just ideas, but approaches that will actually have an impact on lives and on communities.

I am here talking to these very political leaders about the value of the arts and arts education in American society, and I simply have to ask them to look out the window for them to get the point. My US Airways Magazine told the story clearly on my way in, ticking off dozens of cultural destinations awaiting convention delegates.

During our ArtsSpeak panel discussion in Charlotte on the future of arts and arts education in America, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright spoke about cultural diplomacy, a critical foreign policy tool. She also noted how the arts helped shape international political dialogue both formally through U.S.-sponsored jazz and dance and other art forms, and informally by every day actions.

On a personal level, Secretary Albright—famous for her collection of handcrafted brooches—told the story of how she would wear them as subtle symbols of mood or maybe a hint at national policy intent. For example, she wore a serpent pin when meeting with Saddam Hussein. It also turns out that she is a pretty good drummer—and goes by the nickname “Sticks.”

The discussion also showcased how the arts have proven to be so far-reaching. Former Secretary of Education Richard Riley discussed the need for continued focus on national education policies that would steer local and state decision-makers to enhance and support expanded art and music education in the local curriculum. The only state-level cabinet member in the country dedicated to arts and culture, Secretary Linda Carlisle of North Carolina, highlighted how cultural tourism is a huge job creator. Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Bruney

When the board and volunteers of over 1,000 non-profit arts groups in Miami-Dade donned clipboards to conduct surveys with their audience and patrons, they wanted to showcase that the arts are an essential part of the economy. Their hard work paid off in a big way.

The surveys that were collected from hundreds of groups and their participants were compiled and studied. The resulting report, Arts & Economic Prosperity IV developed by Americans for the Arts for cities and states throughout the country shows that even in a declining and difficult economy the arts are relevant and can be considered an essential tool for economic stimulus solutions. The Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs partnered with Americans for the Arts for the local component.

Here are the drum roll worthy results: the arts in Miami-Dade have an impressive annual economic impact of more than 1.1 billion dollars. From Aventura to Homestead, from Coral Gables to Miami Beach, from downtown to the seashore the arts are everywhere. There are more than 1,200 non-profit arts groups in our community and they employ more than 22,000 full-time professionals and workers.

“The arts are an integral part of Miami-Dade County’s economy and our creative design industry is one of the top reasons why companies choose to establish their businesses in our community,” says Pamela Fuertes, Vice President of the Beacon Council. “Under our One Community One Goal (OCOG) study, the creative design industries were identified as a key industry that is vitally important to our present and future growth, and the arts are a big part of that success.”

Every day, arts and cultural organizations act as economic drivers—creating an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is the cornerstone of our tourism industry, playing a leading role in Miami-Dade’s success.

According to George Neary, Vice President of Cultural Tourism for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, cultural tourism increases visitors and attracts people that spend more time and money in our destination…

Read the rest of this post at KnightArts.org as it was originally published on that site on August 11…

This post is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Teaching Artists

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Charting the Future of the Arts

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.