Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Six reasons for a Secretary of the Arts

Quincy Jones has started a petition to ask President Obama to
appoint a Secretary of the Arts. While many other countries have had
Ministers of Art or Culture for centuries, The United States has never
created such a position. We in the arts need this and the country
needs the arts--now more than ever. Please take a moment to sign this
important petition and then pass it on to your friends and colleagues.

As I'm obviously biased, I'm going to give a list of logical reasons why I think this would be beneficial to not only artists such as myself, but the entire country.

1. The arts account for $166 Billion dollars of our economy! 5.7 million jobs are generated annually by the nonprofit arts and culture sector alone.

2. The arts stimulate cash flow into a region via tourism. In New York City, the Waterfalls installed in the fall of 2008 generated $69 million in international tourism. Christo's Gates in 2005 generated $126 million and cost the city only $22 million to commission and install. That's a net profit of $104 million! Cities such as New York, London, Paris, Providence, Rhode Island and Salisbury, North Carolina have revitalized their economies through fostering the arts.

3. According to the National Governor's Association, every $1 spent on the the arts returns an average of $7.

4. Multiple independent studies have demonstrated a correlation between participation in the arts and academic performance in students as well as the added benefit of keeping teenagers out of trouble and thus reducing current and future crime rates. This in turn translates into fewer dollars paid by tax payers for prosecution and incarceration.

5. The arts stimulate the kind of innovative (out-of-the-box) thinking as well as critical analytical skills which are indispensable to business, medical advancement, the advanced sciences, and many other fields. A Secretary of the Arts can help economic advisers achieve a holistic view of the economy and foster the cross pollination of ideas.

6. Last, but not least, they simply make us feel good. The arts increase the quality of our lives, enriching us and fulfilling us in ways we can't even fully articulate. Why else have we been creating art for 40,000 years?

As a side note on the stimulus package, since we're talking so much about economics:

The NEA is a fast and effective means of distributing stimulus money. Many republicans have decried the $50 million in Obama's stimulus package as being wasteful spending. But the goal of the bill is to quickly create jobs, right? I don't quite follow the logic: A job in the arts is less valuable than a job as ... a stock broker or an investment banker?

Sign the petition