Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2014

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Mar 20, 2014 11 comments

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.

3. Arts strengthen the economy. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector represents 3.25 percent of the nation’s GDP—a larger share of the economy than tourism and agriculture. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually (spending by organizations and their audiences) that supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue.

4. Arts are good for local merchants. Attendees at nonprofit arts events spend $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters. Attendees who live outside the county in which the arts event takes place spend twice as much as their local counterparts ($39.96 vs. $17.42)—valuable revenue for local businesses and the community.

5. Arts drive tourism. Arts travelers are ideal tourists, staying longer and spending more to seek out authentic cultural experiences. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that the percentage of international travelers including museum visits on their trip has grown steadily since 2003 (18 to 24 percent). The share attending concerts and theater performances has grown from 14 to 17 percent since 2003.

6. Arts are an export industry. U.S. exports of arts goods (e.g., movies, paintings, jewelry) grew to $72 billion in 2011, while imports were just $25 billion—a $47 billion arts trade surplus.

7. Arts spark creativity and innovation. The Conference Board reports that creativity is among the top 5 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.” Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times more likely to be actively engaged in the arts than average scientists.

8. Arts have social impact. 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.

9. Arts improve 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.

10. Arts mean business. The Creative Industries are arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and design companies. A 2014 analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data counts 750,453 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts that employ 3.1 million people—representing 4.2 percent of all businesses and 2.2 percent of all employees, respectively. (Download a free Creative Industry report for your local community.)

11 responses for Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2014


Marie Ownby says
March 28, 2014 at 3:16 pm

For me I would chose #1, but I think the powers that give out grants might be more interested in #3. This list is awesome, job well done.

  • Please login to post comments.
Francesca Fortunato says
May 07, 2014 at 7:26 pm

I would add an 11th reason, the arts promote empathy. The arts allow humans to understand emotions and experiences that one may never have the chance, fortune, or misfortune to experience within their lifetime. Aristotle once said, “We need art because we have not lived enough. Art allows us to acquire experiences that our own lives could never provide.” The arts are a way for people viewing, touching, experiencing a work to empathize with the artist. I have found film to be a powerful medium to elicit an empathetic response from a viewer. For my senior thesis, I wrote and directed a film about bipolar disorder, based on personal experiences I have had with a family member who is affected by this disorder. The more I spoke with people about my film, the more they would open up and share a personal experience with me, making me feel that I was not alone.

  • Please login to post comments.
Jessica Palmatier says
May 12, 2014 at 6:48 pm

The 11th reason I would add is that the arts provide the ability to not only create a community, but to create a positive social environment. As is discussed in "Culture Builds Community: The Power of Arts and Culture in Community Building," collective efficacy in communities that participate in artistic activities is increased. People are proven to become dedicated to others and the community that surrounds them when the arts are involved; their quality of life becomes top priority. I have experienced this myself, coming into my current college which is labeled an "art school," as I have never seen such a knit community who care about the arts as well as each other. If someone's art work gets lost, people who don't even know the artist themselves will try to help. The arts don't only bring people with similar interests together, but they make them care about each other.

  • Please login to post comments.
May 13, 2014 at 10:50 am

According to a major new IBM (NYSE: IBM) survey of more than 1,500 Chief Executive Officers from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide, chief executives believe that -- more than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision -- successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity.
Conducted through in-person interviews with senior leaders and consultants from IBM’s Global Business Services division, less than half of global CEOs believe their enterprises are adequately prepared to handle a highly volatile, increasingly complex business environment. CEOs are confronted with massive shifts – new government regulations, changes in global economic power centers, accelerated industry transformation, growing volumes of data, rapidly evolving customer preferences – that, according to the study, can be overcome by instilling “creativity” throughout an organization.

  • Please login to post comments.
Corinne McKenna says
May 13, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Art creates leaders. Or, more aptly put, leadership is art. The same principles that are taught within the traditional artistic disciplines carry over to (increasingly needed) effective and complex leadership skills. Michael O’Malley of The Harvard Business Review blog opines that:
“The best leaders and artists give us perspective on our social
condition (good or bad) and greater appreciation of our world, ourselves, and our choices. Moreover, they challenge, excite, comfort, and motivate. They bring us closer together by providing a forum for shared experiences and by forging a sense of community. Leadership and art both animate social encounters. They can change our lives in ways that are as invigorating and real as being hit by a wave. “
At Northeastern University, there is a specific program for those that have gifts in both business and art, called the “Creative Leaders Program”. A selective group, Creative Leaders are “cultural ambassadors”, encouraged to take on “innovative entrepreneurial endeavors”. The beauty and strength of the arts is that they reach far beyond the canvas, stage, and script. The lessons gleaned from the arts transform and are carried seamlessly into all aspects of professional and personal interaction. Art is everywhere.

  • Please login to post comments.
Kristen Breitmaier says
May 06, 2014 at 1:38 am

I agree with all the reasons above, and I have an 11th reason to add to it. The Arts establish empathy and allow for humans to connect to one another, theatre in particular. Bill English of the SF Playhouse in San Francisco says, "theatre is like a gym for empathy. It's where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people's actions. We practice caring," in the Huffington Post article 'How Theater for Young People Could Save the World'. In today's day and age I think its important for people to maintain empathy for other people and to teach children and young people to be empathetic, and the arts are a capable way of teaching that.

  • Please login to post comments.
October 21, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I’m a concerned parent in Berkeley, Missouri which borders Ferguson, Missouri. My children are in the Ferguson-Florissant School District and have been in a program called Celebrate Children for over six years! The school district has at the last minute cut the Arts and Dance program at a time that OUR community NEEDS it the most!!!

I’m pleading with you to view, share and hopefully if able support our campaign on your FACEBOOK, Twitter and other online portals to bring awareness to the GOFUNDME campaign to keep this program alive.

"It takes a Village to RAISE a CHILD"!!! Despite the ongoing debate as to the origin of this phrase-proverb, the sentiment is definitely NOT CLICHE!!! It lives and breathes through educators, parents, children and community who support programs such as "Celebrate Children"! A program in the Ferguson Florissant School District in Missouri which was cut by the Ferguson Florissant School District this 2014 - 2015 school year. "Celebrate Children" has been cultivating OUR children by instilling integrity, responsibility, accountability not to mention mobility through creativity in the arts and dance since 1996. Please show support and share!!! Please see the links below.

Thank you in advance for all you do!

  • Please login to post comments.
May 29, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Think beyond supporting art - think of supporting that which underlies and carries art to the inner depths of the soul and spirit where we can truly be inspired. I have developed my art in the dusty,noisy, industrialized environment of the factory - NOT the plush pseudo factory of Andy Warhol and his hands-off technique - I have held on to this dream for over 25 years and have not sold one piece of art - it is a labor of love. However, I have won awards from art world leaders. But, the most important thing is my story can inspire and I persevered long enough to see its archetypal composition come to life. But who would benefit if the story sits in boxes?

  • Please login to post comments.
jfutral says
November 14, 2014 at 9:40 am

I've never seen a top ten list change anyone's mind. Mostly because it isn't the mind that needs changing.

Regardless, if there were zero economic affect (which is most of this list), would you still believe art is important? Is art not intrinsically important enough on its own? What if art was always more expensive to create than any revenue it could generate, directly or from a network effect? What if art never created leaders (an odd thing considering how introverted so many artists are) or "innovated"? What if there were no quantitative benefits to art?

Just something to think about. Maybe what needs to change more than adding yet another top ten list or economic impact study is how we talk about art and the words we use when doing so. If someone is bent on not supporting the arts, I don't see how any logic can counter such an illogical position. Logic and reason is not at play.

Just some thoughts,

  • Please login to post comments.
Cbean says
December 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm

would it be possible to correct the web address on the "handy one-pager" here:

it shows at the bottom as www.americansforthearts.or


  • Please login to post comments.
Ms. Caitlin Holland says
December 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Not sure why that is cutting off, but will do! Thanks!

  • Please login to post comments.