Why The Arts Matter

By Rochelle Mucha

Let’s begin a conversation on why the arts matter.

As proud chair and founder of the Roswell Arts Fund, I spend a good deal of time with my colleagues advocating for the arts, building strategic bridges between the arts and public and private city organizations. This conversation intends to build a bridge to you, all readers, wherever you reside. Let’s begin.

What do you think of when you think of the arts? Saturday date night? An outdoor festival to meander about? Concert to take the family? Special treat or celebration? Perhaps, you think of the arts as something outside of your normal life and routine. It is not. We experience the arts every day, even if we are not aware. The arts are captured through architecture and streetscapes, culinary delights, an intriguing novel or reflective poem, the design of our park benches and bike racks, provocative public art, the science of nature, and so much more.

The arts connect us and liberate us. They record our history, capture our present, and imagine our future. They define our spaces, and great spaces make for great places!

Some of you are artsy folks, nodding with agreement, wearing a smile as you read.

Some of you are unartsy, maybe feeling dragged along to the latest event and less convinced that the arts matter to you. Let’s see if I can challenge that conclusion.

Are you fretting over the cost of those music lessons? Before you nix them, consider that multiple studies link music study to academic and professional achievement. Testimonies from Paul Allen, Microsoft founder to Alan Greenspan, former Chair of the Federal Reserve support this research. It appears music training sharpens abilities to collaborate, listen, and synthesize disparate ideas. Yet music and arts education in public school, from pre-school to grad school, continue to decline at an alarming rate. What opportunities does your child’s school offer to engage with the arts?

Not sure whether to sponsor that performance.... not convinced that your company name on an event program will make a difference. Think again. Americans for the Arts Partnership Movement reports 79% of businesses agree that supporting the arts increases name recognition. And when you partner with the arts you are partnering with the whole community. Arts patrons favorably bolster your city economically with dinner, shopping and gasoline purchases.

Struggling to get a good return on your investment portfolio these days? Consider that the arts industry generates about $30 billion in revenue for local, state and federal governments every year, and by comparison, the three levels of government collectively spend less than $4 billion to support the arts annually. That is a spectacular 7-to-1 return on investment that would thrill most of us. Investing in the arts is a good idea for public and private institutions.

The arts are not an extra, they are not disposable, and they are not on the periphery of our daily lives. Rather it is the strategic placement and utilization of the arts that determine the quality of our daily lives, play a critical role in the overall social and economic health of our communities.

There are countless ways in which the arts matter to us, individually and collectively, to our communities, culturally and economically. We will explore the relationship of the arts to community character, education, the economy and philanthropy as well as present profiles of key players in the arts industry in future conversations.

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The arts matter!