NASAA Notes: February 2018

February
2018

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Pam Breaux

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February 7, 2018

The Arts & America's Bottom Line

I delivered these remarks at a media briefing at the National Press Club on January 23. The event was webcast live on NASAA’s Facebook page.

Good morning to those of you assembled here today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and to those of you joining us on-line. On behalf of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, I’m pleased to welcome you to today’s briefing.

We know the arts produce positive community outcomes across the United States. This is certainly the reason local, state and federal governments invest in the arts, adding value to their public policy goals for the economy, education, health and wellness, and more. Public support for the arts is a good deal for citizens, for government and for America’s bottom line, and today we’ll share some of the stories and data behind it.

Let’s begin with health care. Arts-integrated health treatments produce positive clinical outcomes for active-duty military and veteran populations. Beyond the military, other patient groups benefit from the arts as well, recovering more quickly, taking fewer medications, and maintaining physical and emotional well-being. Later this morning you’ll hear about arts-integrated medical treatments helping to heal military personnel with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Art therapy is producing better outcomes, saving money on treatments, and being effective, as veterans rank it as a top-four treatment most helpful in their recovery. These are results worth replicating for the benefit of our military.

For members of the media, your press kits contain the story of the Oklahoma Arts Council, which led the way for public agencies and nonprofits to work together and determine how best they could serve the substantial veteran population of the state. They learned about the needs of veterans and set a course to address those needs.

Later in today’s program you’ll hear about the national initiative Creative Forces. Developed by the National Endowment for the Arts, the program is seeing impressive results in Virginia and Maryland, and it’s expanding to other parts of the country. Its collaborator, Americans for the Arts, is also here with us today. This program is an example of why federal and state partnerships matter. A unique partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Defense piloted this program, achieved success and set a course to populate it in other states. No one state alone could make this happen. This national leadership role played by the National Endowment for the Arts is one of many reasons the agency is so vital.

The arts and creative expression also drive America’s economy. In communities small and large, often one small business at a time, the arts equal economic growth. With millions of jobs creating 4.2% of our nation’s gross domestic product, this sector outweighs construction, transportation and mining. Even more, arts and culture generate a $26.4 billion trade surplus, an undeniable advantage for our country’s bottom line.

The Montana Artrepreneur Program is an outstanding example of the arts driving the small-business economy. Developed by the Montana Arts Council, this art-centered business development program is expanding opportunities for rural artists, including members of Montana tribes. Building artistic skills and business skills, nearly 400 artists have participated. The result? Artists increased their net sales by 397%, with a 44% increase in out-of-state sales on average. Their businesses are growing. The program is sustainable, it’s efficient, and it works.

The arts also boost academic success. Preparing students for productive employment, arts curriculums respond to the 97% of business leaders who say creativity is important in the workplace. These curriculums respond to 85% of employers who say they can’t find enough creative workers. The National Endowment for the Arts and state arts agencies together fund K-12 education projects that reach more than 4.3 million students each year. This support helps the Nebraska Arts Council implement initiatives like Mastering the Arts, where arts focused professional development will be provided for teachers at low-achieving rural elementary schools. The program will leverage the skills and habits of creativity to improve academic performance and critical thinking skills. Their ultimate goal? To prepare students and teachers to exceed the expectations of state education standards.

Also improving academic success, the West Virginia Commission on the Arts leads a public-private partnership designed to provide music in schools. In collaboration with VH1 Save the Music Foundation, the state arts agency has placed thousands of musical instruments at schools in 55 counties. This is the first statewide public partnership that VH1 is involved in, and it’s in one of the more economically depressed states in the nation; the instruments are key to bringing the many benefits of music education to students across West Virginia.

Press kits include the West Virginia story, the Montana Artrepreneur story and others.

During today’s program you’ll also get to know a community that uses the arts as a key to rural opportunity. We know that rural America lost 400,000 jobs during the last recession. Recovery has been slow. Smart strategies that include the arts offer sustainable solutions to small towns that suffer from significant economic challenges. You’ll hear about a creative placemaking initiative by the South Carolina Arts Commission that’s facilitating community-led planning and development projects in six rural counties. Through the arts, citizens are reclaiming community vitality. You’ll have the opportunity to see what progress looks like in Walterboro, which is in Colleton County, South Carolina. Theirs is an important story, one of results today and potential for tomorrow, and we see comparable stories unfolding in small towns across the country.

Town to town and state to state, America’s bottom line is strengthened by public investments in the arts. That’s why every state and jurisdiction joins the federal government in investing in the arts. Far from being a partisan issue, these investments are a matter of effective public policy and putting communities first.

To launch our next segment, I’m pleased to introduce you to Benjamin Brown. A lifelong Alaskan, Ben is chairman of the board of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies as well as chairman of the Alaska State Council on the Arts. Please welcome Ben to the podium.

Watch the full webcast, The Arts & America’s Bottom Line, including speakers Sara M. Kass, M.D., Capt. (Ret.), U.S. Navy, and military and medical advisor for Creative Forces, highlighting the healing power of the arts for veterans and their families; veteran and Purple Heart recipient Sebastian Munevar, sharing the benefits of art therapy to veterans and their families; and Susan DuPlessis, program director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, along with Matthew Mardell, director of the Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Commercial Kitchen in Walterboro, South Carolina, explaining the impact of the arts in building rural communities.

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