Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2015

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Mar 13, 2015 8 comments

With the arts advocacy season fully upon us, the following is my updated “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.” Changes this year include updating #3 with the BEA’s new Arts in the GDP research, #8 to include a statement about the benefits of the arts in the military, and #10 includes the new Creative Industries data (now current as of January 2015).

This is just one of many arrows to include in your arts advocacy quiver. While it’s a helpful one, we know there are many more reasons to support the arts. What are yours? Please share your #11 (and more!) in the comments section below. What a great collection we can build together.

Please feel to share and post this as you like. You can download a handy 1-pager here.

10 Reasons to Support the Arts

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 higher on the verbal and math portions of their SATs 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 is a $699 billion industry, which represents 4.3 percent of the nation’s GDP—a larger share of the economy than transportation 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 28 percent). The share attending concerts and theater performances has grown from 14 to 18 percent since 2003.

6. Arts are an export industry. U.S. exports of arts goods (e.g., movies, paintings, jewelry) grew to $75 billion in 2012, while imports were just $27 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” 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 crime and poverty rates. The arts are used by the U.S. Military to promote troop force and family readiness, resilience, retention and for the successful reintegration of veterans into family and community life.

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 2015 analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data counts 702,771 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts that employ 2.9 million people—representing 3.9 percent of all businesses and 1.9 percent of all employees.

8 responses for Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2015


April 27, 2015 at 4:43 pm

Having made my entire income on the arts "business" and through arts-based non-profits, as well as contributing my own artistic works of art to society, I KNOW that arts mean business. They are not at odds. It's like Science and God. You can sit on one side or the other, or you can be broadminded to understand that they are one and the same.

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julie says
May 23, 2015 at 7:23 pm

Arts are good for the soul and for local communities. Supporting art is simply good business!

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Harry Black says
April 01, 2015 at 12:10 am

Well, OK, it can be all of the above Rob. Art makes us human, or at least humanizes us; capitalism does the opposite. When Randy Cohen claims "art means business," he's no longer talking about art. He's describing something else entirely.

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Glenda Thurmond says
March 31, 2015 at 7:51 pm

Mr. Black sounds like one of my creepy college professors! That makes me want to heave!

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March 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm

Mr. Black, I have to disagree with your assertion that "the ultimate purpose of art... is to undermine the current social order and point to a better world." The ultimate purpose of art is to allow humans to express what's in their hearts and minds through their hands, voices, and movements. Undermining the current social order can be a result of the act of artistic expression.

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Harry Black says
March 20, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Randy wants to demonstrate that the arts make capitalism work better. "Arts mean business"!"The Conference Board reports that creativity is among the top 5 applied skills sought by business leaders"! Etc.

How boring! And how counter the ultimate purpose of art, which is to undermine the current social order and to point to a better world. Mother Courage--yes! Another tired performance of La Boheme at the Metropolitan Opera--yawn!

So never mind those wonderful "business leaders"! If you can walk across the needlessly renovated David Koch plaza at the Metropolitan Museum without heaving, you have a stronger stomach than I do. But no doubt the plaza "salves" David Koch's "ache" for respectability with the Wall Street establishment.

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Larry Fried says
March 20, 2015 at 9:06 am

Great speaking points! Thank you for this.

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December 29, 2016 at 9:01 am

At first sight academic performance of students is not related with art but ultius does agree that students with rich art education showcase better achievements in different fields of study. It can be explained by development of creativity and artistic skills.

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