January 11, 2017
Advocacy That's Relevant NOW
Welcome to 2017! NASAA is working hard as state legislatures convene, Congress gets organized and we welcome a new administration to the White House. As we enter what promises to be a big year, there may certainly be advocacy challenges; however, let’s not forget that there are also opportunities to be created and seized as we move forward. The state arts agency community knows well that there are a million reasons to support public funding for the arts, but here are five reasons that NASAA thinks are particularly compelling in today’s political environment.
Public Investment in the Arts Enriches the Economy
The arts offer a cure for what ails the American economy. Small businesses, individual entrepreneurs and innovators are its heart and soul. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis affirms that creative enterprises are a really significant part of that equation. Arts and cultural production are growing, providing jobs and tax revenue and generating goods and services in demand by the public. As America enters a new era of international trade deals, it’s important to remember that creative products generate a trade surplus. The United States exports more arts and cultural products and services than it imports, and that’s positive for job growth and our nation’s overall economy.
Public Investment in the Arts Enhances Health and Wellness
People of all political persuasions are concerned about health care that works and how much it costs. We’re all interested in solutions, and the arts offer some compelling approaches. Arts therapies for members of the military, for example, provide strategies that work and are cost effective. The Creative Forces arts and military partnership, steered by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Defense, supports successful healing for members of the armed services; these therapies make a substantial difference for those confronting brain injuries and other conditions. As this modest program expands, it is uniquely positioned to aid more military members who have made enormous sacrifices to protect our country’s safety and freedoms. The evidence base is also growing in support of creative therapies that help other patient groups, including older Americans, recover from a host of physical, cognitive and psychological health problems. State arts agencies are leaders in these efforts, supporting both arts and military and creative aging programs at the state level.
Public Investment in the Arts Invigorates Rural Communities
Rural America faces acute economic development challenges. Many communities contend with a confluence of problems that include high poverty rates, poor health, lower levels of education attainment, inadequate infrastructure and the outmigration of skilled workers. These concerns are taking on new urgency for governors who see rural communities rebounding more slowly from the recession than metropolitan areas. The natural resource extraction, farming and manufacturing jobs that sustained an earlier generation of rural families have declined, and states are seeking new, creative solutions. Arts based economic development strategies offer authentic and sustainable advantages important to rural areas, while preserving heritage within the communities. State arts agencies are among those leading the way in pioneering arts based rural development solutions; models for this work were recently showcased by the Rural Policy Research Institute and Art of the Rural at their Next Generation National Rural Placemaking Summit.
Public Investment in the Arts Boosts Education
On both sides of the aisle, policymakers want schools to meet the very highest expectations, preparing our youth to compete for jobs and succeed in life. While disagreement exists about preferred policy solutions, most experts agree that our education system is still struggling. The Brookings Institution notes that the consequences of inequality in educational attainment ultimately cement differences in opportunities. The Heritage Foundation maintains that lackluster academic outcomes, especially for disadvantaged children, means that millions of children pass through American schools without the quality education needed to prepare them for success in life and the economy.
The arts are an essential ingredient of any education improvement plan. They raise academic achievement and success because they teach creative thinking, analytical reasoning, effective communication and collaborative work. These competencies lead the way to student success in school, career and life.
State Arts Agencies Earn Public Trust
Public trust in government is at an all-time low. As citizens question the effectiveness of public agencies, it’s important to highlight the value of state arts agencies, which operate with modest financial resources, small staffs and as little red tape as they can. We work in partnership with our constituents and are a model for efficient and highly accountable service to the public. State arts agencies also produce a considerable return on investment for taxpayers. For every $1 spent on state arts agencies, more than $27 is generated in earned income, matching funds and private contributions for local projects and services. (Source: NASAA FY2016 SAA Revenues Survey and SAA FY2015 Final Descriptive Reports)
State arts agencies form the backbone of America’s public arts commitment, making the cultural, educational, economic and civic benefits of the arts available in all 50 states and six U.S. jurisdictions. Regardless of political affiliation, as the public sector supports the well-being of citizens and communities, the arts help governments achieve critical public-policy goals. The arts are a lean and effective public-policy asset, and the story of their positive impact on communities across the nation continues to unfold.
In this Issue
State to State
- Alaska: Resolution Protecting Native Artists from State Ivory Bans
- West Virginia: Fast-Track Funding for Natural Disaster Recovery
- California: Arts & Public Media Grant
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