Throughout the history of mankind, art has served as a mirror of the culture and thinking of the time in which it was created. Often, art was the only thing that endured long after its creators had passed. Even in these technology driven times, the arts and their relevance serve as a powerful reflection of our culture. With arts education programs often struggling due to lack of funding, it is crucial that we examine the many ways in which art impacts our children, ourselves, and our lives.
The arts put people to work. By investing in the arts, we are fostering a skilled work force of creative jobs that contribute to the economy. The arts employ painters, musicians, managers, marketers, technicians, teachers, designers, carpenters, and craftsmen in a wide variety of other trades. There are 686,000 creative businesses in the United States that employ 2.8 million workers, while jobs in non-profit arts organizations add up to more than 5.7 million nationwide. (sources: National Governors Association; Americans for the Arts)
The arts attract tourism revenue. Cultural tourism is a huge market, comprised of some 118 million cultural travelers (people who include arts and heritage in their trips every year). Furthermore, cultural tourists stay longer and spend 36% more money at their destinations than any other kinds of travelers. (sources: Mandala Research, Travel Industry Association of America).
EDUCATIONAL AND WORK FORCE BENEFITS:
The arts help kids to succeed in school and in life. Students who receive arts education have stronger social skills, improved motivation to learn, and more esteem for themselves and their peers. Arts education helps to create a positive school environment in which learning and human development can occur. (Sources: National Assembly of State Arts Agencies; University of California at Los Angeles Education Partnership, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies/Arts Education Partnership).
Arts education provides skills critical to 21st century success. Companies are increasingly looking for workers with creativity and higher order thinking and communication skills. While studying the arts, students sharpen their perceptual, analytic, and interpretive skills while developing creative thinking, communication, and problem-solving abilities. (sources: Education Commission of the States; National Governors Association, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies).
The arts keep kids in school. Dropout rates are causing serious academic and economic concerns for many communities. Numerous studies have found that arts education programs can help to reduce dropout rates, thus increasing the retention and engagement rates of students and raising educational attainment levels. (Sources: Center for Arts Education, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies/Arts Education Partnership, Texas Coalition for Quality Arts Education).
The arts can bring a community together during difficult and trying times. Whether states are facing economic distress, natural disasters, or other adversity, the arts are a powerful force for recovery and healing, a benefit that few other industries offer. Many concerts were organized to raise money for relief after 9/11, which brought people together and helped them feel better.
The arts bring public spaces to life. Artworks and arts activities make public spaces livable, attractive, and distinctive. They engage residents in the creation of sustainable and welcoming places to live, work, play, and raise families. (Sources: The community Arts Network, Social Impact of the Arts Project/The reinvestment Fund).
The arts contribute to wellness and healthy aging. According to a national medical study, senior citizens who participate regularly in the arts report better health, fewer doctors visits, less medication usage, a decreased likelihood of developing dementia, better mental health, and higher rates of social engagement. (Sources: George Washington University Center on Aging; National Endowment for the Arts).
The arts contribute to collective efficiency. Research has shown that the arts build resiliency, foster social capital, strengthen interpersonal ties and empower residents, all of which nurture the collective effectiveness of a community to address major problems, including poverty. (Sources: Social Impact of the Arts Project/The Reinvestment Fund; John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Americans for the Arts).