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A New Argument for the Arts

The arts community has struggled with the challenge of communicating the value of the arts. While still believing in “arts for art’s sake,” arts advocates have felt compelled to make a series of arguments about economic impact, translating outcomes from investment in arts and culture into dollars and jobs. Greg Sandow, in a recent Wall Street Journal article, argues that the economic argument is no longer enough, that it doesn’t distinguish the arts sufficiently from other job and income creating activities, and that in a time of scarcity, the arts will not beat out other sectors as an economic engine. He says, “The arts are going to need a better strategy. And in the end it’s going to have to come from art itself, from the benefits art brings…” At WolfBrown we are exploring with clients other compelling reasons why the arts deserve broad community support; for example, with Leveraging Investments in Creativity, which is demonstrating that investment in individual artists builds communities; with Big Thought, a “creative learning organization striving to make imagination a part of everyday learning,” which works to “lift children up and better their lives using arts, culture and education as tools and catalysts…”; with the Duke Charitable Foundation’s Creative Campus program, which is demonstrating the impact of arts on interdisciplinary learning for Wesleyan University’s Creative Campus initiative; and with our Assessing Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance study for Major University Presenters, which develops a methodology to define and measure for the first time the transformative experience of a live performance.

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