Ten Reasons to Support the Arts in 2018

The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts bring us joy, help us express our values, and build bridges between cultures. The arts are also a fundamental component of a healthy community—strengthening them socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times. The arts are all about stories—often small, always meaningful. This advocacy season, find your stories and pair them with the research-based findings in the “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.” Yours will be an advocacy visit that is not soon forgotten.

UPDATED! Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts for National Arts & Humanities Month

October is National Arts & Humanities Month, a time to celebrate and champion the arts locally and nationally. The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts bring us joy, help us express our values, and build bridges between cultures. The arts are also a fundamental component of a healthy community—strengthening them socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times. The effective arts advocate needs a full quiver of case-making arrows to articulate the value of the arts in as many ways as possible—from the passionately inherent to the functionally pragmatic. To help fill your quiver, I offer an updated Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5: How the Nonprofit Arts & Culture Industry Impacts the Economy in Your Community

When recently asked how best to advocate for the arts in the current environment, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (NM)—co-chair of the Senate Cultural Caucus and chief sponsor of the CREATE Act—was unequivocal: “Start by telling every one of your Senators about the economic benefits of the arts.” This familiar refrain is one we have heard for decades from city council chambers to governor mansions to the halls of Congress—and it works. Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 does just that. It changes the conversation about the arts from that of a “charity” to one about an “industry” that provides both cultural and economic benefits to the community.

Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2017

As a young theater artist, I could always be counted on to step up and make a passionate plea when arts funding was on the line. I shared stories about myself and my colleagues with my legislators about how the arts are fundamental to our humanity. I wrote about how the arts ennoble and inspire us, fostering goodness and beauty. While I have never abandoned these arts-for-arts-sake messages in my advocacy, I have learned that they are rarely stand-alone winners. Today, I augment these fundamental benefits of the arts with pragmatic ones—stories and research that connect the arts to what keeps our community leaders awake at night: jobs, economy, education, healthcare, and community development. The change in my approach has made me a more effective advocate.

Fifteen Things Americans Believe About the Arts

From tattoos to political candidates to arts education, here are 15 things we heard from the American public in our most recent public opinion survey.

Americans Speak Out About the Arts: An In-Depth Look at Perceptions and Attitudes about the Arts in America

How does the American public feel about the arts? Do they value artistic activities and arts education? We asked these and other questions in one of the largest public opinion studies about the arts ever conducted.

Americans Support Increases in Government Arts Funding

This is the second of four blog posts on Americans for the Arts’ new public opinion survey.

In December 2015, Congress increased the appropriation to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) from $146 million to $148 million. That was certainly good news to arts advocates, but was that per capita increase of less than one cent (to $0.46 per capita in 2016) in line with the public’s will—too little, too much? That same month, Americans for the Arts put the question of the government’s role in arts funding to the American public with the following results:

The American Public Says YES to Arts Education!

This is the first of four blog posts on Americans for the Arts’ new public opinion survey.

In December 2015, Congress passed the new Every Student Succeeds Act reauthorization, with a provision that includes the arts in the definition of a “well-rounded education.” Arts advocates certainly found something to celebrate with that, but just where does the public stand on the issue? Later that same week, Americans for the Arts conducted a nationwide public opinion survey on the arts and arts education. Findings showed:

10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2016

With the 2016 arts advocacy season upon us, I’ve updated the popular “Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.” Changes this year include #3 with the updated BEA/NEA’s new Arts in the GDP data as well as the addition of the public’s support of the arts as part of a well-rounded education (#2).

These are just 10 of many case-making arrows to include in your arts advocacy quiver, but we know there are many more. What is your #11?

What’s Measured Matters . . . Private Giving to Arts & Culture: Way Up in 2014!

Support for the nonprofit arts in the U.S. is a mosaic of funding sources—a delicate 60-30-10 balance of earned revenue, private sector contributions, and government support. The arts sector relies on contributions to keep its cultural products and services affordable and accessible to our communities.  We pay close attention to philanthropy because even small fluctuations in contributed revenue can be the difference between an arts organization broadening its reach or facing a deficit. Every year the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy publishes their annual Giving USA analysis on philanthropy. Their latest report shows that 2014 was a very good year for the arts.

Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2015

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.

What’s Measured, Matters . . .

BEA’s Arts in the GDP Study: What Next?

In January 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released its revised Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA)—a set of measures of arts and culture in the economy, including its share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Much has been written about the truly mind-bending sum of $698.7 billion in industry expenditures—a substantial contributor to the economy that supported 4.7 million jobs in 2012 and represented 4.32 percent of GDP.

Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2014

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.”

Think Local! An Interview with Randy Cohen and Michael Killoren

When it comes to supporting the arts in America, we know that there are as many different strategies as there are communities. At the core of all of them, however, is the local arts agency (LAA). Broadly defined as an organization or program that works to foster and support the entire arts industry within a community, LAAs can take many forms—public or private, full time staff or all-volunteer operations, standalone or functioning under the umbrella of a different agency, and beyond. No matter what shape they take, LAAs seek to support all of the arts for all of the people within a community—a key component of our mission at Americans for the Arts. That is why we have, in close partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, chosen to undertake the 2013-14 Census of Local Arts Agencies. This comprehensive survey is designed to benchmark the financial health and programmatic trends of the richly varied, highly diverse, and extremely important work of the nation’s 5,000 LAAs and the communities that they serve. The data collection will commence in early 2014, so make sure you keep an eye out for our dedicated LAA Census webpage, coming soon!

Here to answer some of our burning questions about the survey—why it is so important, what we hope to learn, and how we plan on using the data—are two of the driving forces behind its conception: Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research & Policy at Americans for the Arts, and Michael Killoren, Local Arts Agencies and Challenge America Director at the National Endowment for the Arts. (Note: an abridged version of this interview was published in Arts Link, the quarterly membership publication of Americans for the Arts.)

Without the Data, You’re Just Another Person with an Opinion

Three years before writing Future Shock in 1970, futurist Alvin Toffler first wrote The Art of Measuring the Arts, and noted, "A cultural data system is needed to provide information for rational policy-making in the cultural field and to assist those outside the field in understanding their impact on it."

Poof! The IRS Revokes Tax Exemption for 20,000+ Arts Groups (Updated!)

In 2006, Congress asked the IRS to keep better track of the nation’s 1.7 million nonprofit organizations. Yesterday, the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of 279,599 of them for not filing legally required documents for three consecutive years (2007-2009). Nearly 27,000 of them are nonprofit ARTS organizations.

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