The Arts make dollars and sense: Matt's Memo

Syracuse Jazz Fest 2012.

The lyrics, the score and the images touch our emotions and provoke us to think. That's the nature of the arts. Painting, sculpture, poetry and prose reach our soul and touch our hearts. Yet, that's often not enough to convince a community of the importance of a vital cultural community. The argument needs to be more clinical, more by the numbers. So here they are.

The Syracuse area non-profit Arts and Cultural Industry generates $133,360,641 per year. The industry provides the equivalent of 5,117 jobs per year. All those exhibits, concerts and festivals also generate $20,0970,000 in new revenue for state and local governments. Those are some powerful numbers.

This data comes from a compilation of arts industry research provided by Americans for the Arts. My cousin, Patrick Mulcahy, directed me to the site after reading my latest blog stressing the importance of funding arts education in our schools. Patrick is a high level theatre professional who produces, directs, acts and writes. In our years at Liverpool High School we shared the stage countless times in a variety of performances.

Music and arts teachers are facing tremendous pressure on two fronts. Budget cuts and the push for increased standardized testing. If school administrators, board members or taxpayers are wondering whether arts programs are worthwhile to continue consider this, more numbers. Students who participate in the arts in school are:

  • 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement

  • 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools

  • 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair

  • 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance

  • We all should desire to live in a vital, diverse community. We all should want a town that offers choices of entertainment and enrichment. This is not simply an esoteric wish. The numbers tell us support of the arts translates into dollars and sense.


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