Why Giving to the Local Arts and Culture Scene Will Pay Back Your Entire Community

Many people love art and can appreciate the intangible value it brings to our quality of living, in its many forms. A case can be made that arts and culture translate to economic growth. Unfortunately, a lot of artists struggle to make a living despite their valuable contributions to society.

Arts stimulate business

Recent data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis indicates that direct employment in the arts and culture industry accounts for less than 1% of all workers across the nation. Yet arts and cultural activities accounted for 4.2% of US GDP, with a trend of 2% annual growth.

Despite a relatively low headcount, it’s clear that arts and culture as an industry more than pull its own weight in terms of economic opportunity. A lot of that comes from related industries. Professional artists require materials: painters need pigments; performing artists need appropriate apparel or costumes, and so on.

If you can observe a thriving art scene in your community, then you probably won’t have to look far in order to spot local businesses and employees working to support these artists in related activities.

Creating an identity

Low angle view of a woman in theatre box

A strong art scene has an effect that permeates into the local culture. Starting at the top level, policymakers can influence a community’s attractiveness in terms of arts and culture. A study cites the funding and support of artist centers in Minnesota as contributing to its outstanding ratings for arts vibrancy – Minneapolis placed 5th in the National Center for Arts Research index survey.

With support from the top, historic theaters, galleries, and other venues of significance can be maintained as a source of pride and identity. Artist centers foster connections between peers, mentors, and audiences. This, in turn, increases collective civic and social engagement.

Bringing people together

With greater community engagement in arts and culture, comes better awareness and representation of different traditions. Involvement in the arts brings people together and crosses boundaries. A community that is able to understand and accept differences can work better together – and becomes a more welcoming place overall.

Needless to say, having a great art scene and being an open, welcoming community are both among the top factors that make destinations attractive to visitors. Given time, the wide appeal of an artistic community can definitely drive tourism to your area.

Artists are undervalued

However, the outlook for individual artists is poor on average. Many artist fees go unpaid, or they may be forced to accept minimal compensation in return for doing work they love. Artists often apply for grants to cover their expenses.

The arts and culture industry stimulates related business growth and benefits the community, but short-changes its own workers in order to effectively subsidize the rest.

What you can do

Artist painting

You can easily make a difference in your local scene by becoming more of a patron of the arts. This doesn’t necessarily mean donations or committing to funding or sponsorship – although that would, of course, be great! Rather, support your local artists in any small way you can.

Participation in creative community projects such as painting murals or sidewalks will reinforce your sense of community, appreciation of the value of arts and culture, and awareness of the logistics involved in such activities. Knowing more of what goes into any given art project, you can support related local industries in your purchases.

Artists love to travel in search of inspiration, and being a great place to stay often comes down to having a wonderful group of people around. Take pride in your local art scene when engaging in discussions, and help the community become more attractive and welcoming to others.

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