Enhancing Communities Through the Arts

Posted by Emily Peck, May 04, 2011 0 comments

Sunoco volunteers helped paint three panels of a 42-panel mural as part of Philadelphia’s “This We Believe” city-wide mural project.

If I had to come up with a theme for the month of April, it would be the role of the arts in enhancing communities.

I spent time in Washington, DC, at our National Arts Advocacy Day on April 4-5, and then followed that with a trip to Philadelphia to attend the Council on Foundations annual conference and the U.S. Chamber’s Corporate Community Investment conference.

At all three of these events, arts and business leaders spoke about the important role the arts play in building strong and vibrant communities which leads to numerous benefits including attracting and retaining a strong workforce and enhanced civic engagement. 

In his blog post from last week, Randy Cohen lists the top ten reasons to support the arts, placing the role of the arts in building communities.

Near the top of his list is: "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.”

At the U.S. Chamber’s Corporate Community Investment Conference, Bob Lynch (President and CEO of Americans for the Arts) joined Ruth Clauser (President of the Sunoco Foundation) and Gary Steuer (Chief Cultural Officer of the City of Philadelphia) to discuss why it is important for businesses to support arts and culture and the impact of these activities on a community's resiliency and development.

Ruth talked about Sunoco’s participation in Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program’s 25th anniversary mural project entitled “This We Believe.” Through this project, Sunoco employees engaged with the arts and their community.

This experience also provided an an opportunity for employees to collaborate with co-workers, enhancing teamwork and cross-department connections.

At our national Arts Advocacy Day, Cincinnati business leader Edgar Smith, (CEO, World Pac Paper and a member of the Business Committee for the Arts Executive Board) came to Capitol Hill to speak about the importance of the arts.

In his prepared testimony, Edgar wrote:

“Our success, our community’s success, is built on the understanding both in the corporate boardroom, and in our neighborhood’s households that the arts and culture bring vibrancy and creates a ripple effect of benefits, even for those who don’t participate directly. Our research shows that this ripple effect creates two important kinds of benefits: a) in the economic vitality of an area and b) in how communities come together and understand each other. In economic terms, theaters, galleries, concerts, and so on mean more energy and life in a community, more tourist, more renovated buildings, more people and businesses moving to an appealing place.”

You can hear more about why Edgar values the arts for his business and his community on our YouTube page.

Supporting, partnering, and participating in the arts can enhance communities and provide benefits both within the workplace and out in the community.

Tell us your story.

How have the arts benefited your workplace or your community?

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