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Great Reasons to Support the Arts

Every year, Randy Cohen compiles a list of the top ten reasons to support the arts for that given year. 2019 has been no different.

So who is Randy Cohen?

Only the Vice President of Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts since 1991. That’s who.

So yeah, Cohen knows his stuff. He’s considered an expert in the field of arts funding, policy, research, and utilizing the arts to address community development issues.

So What Are Cohen’s Reasons to Support the Arts in 2019?

According to Cohen, “arts are fundamental to our humanity.” As an arts academy high school, we sure aren’t going to disagree.

But here is what Cohen’s research uncovered about the arts for 2019.

1. They Improve Academic Performance

Yes, we harp on this one a lot on this blog. But that’s partially because the prevailing myth continues to dictate that students who can’t cut it in academics fall back on the arts.

But it turns out that students engaged in arts learning actually have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, lower rates of dropping out and higher rates of attending college.

And this is true across the entire socioeconomic range.

Even so, the Department of Education reports that access to arts education for students of color is much lower than for white students. So this alone is a great reason to support the arts this year.

2. They Strengthen the Economy

Cohen found that the “production of all arts and cultural goods in the U.S. (e.g., nonprofit, commercial, education) added $804 billion to the economy in 2016.” Yes, billion.

This included a $25 billion international trade surplus. That was a larger share of the nation’s economy than transportation, tourism, and agriculture. 

And every year, the nonprofit arts industry ALONE generates $166.3 billion in economic activity. The spending by organizations and their audiences supports 4.6 million jobs and generates a whopping $27.5 billion in government revenue.

So clearly, a strong economy depends on the arts.

3. They Improve Individual Well-Being

Here’s what Cohen found in his research:

  • 69% of the population believe the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences”
  • 73% of the population feel the arts give them “pure pleasure to experience and participate in”
  • 81% of the population say the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world”

Those are some pretty high numbers. And it’s safe to say, we’re in a rather troubled world right now.

4. They Improve Healthcare 

Did you know that nearly 50% of the United States’ healthcare institutions provide arts programming for patients, families, and staff?

How come?

Well, 78% said they offer these programs because they result in shorter hospital stays, better pain management, and less medication for their patients.

5. They Spark Creativity and Innovation

Given the emphasis on STEM learning, you’d think that business leaders are only looking for eggheads. (We say this with all due respect to eggheads, whom we LOVE.)

So it might surprise you to hear that creativity is among the top five applied skills sought by business leaders. It’s expected to be third most important work skill by 2020 and 72% rate creativity as of high importance when hiring.

Cohen also found research on creativity that showed how Nobel laureates in the sciences are “17 times more likely to be actively engaged in the arts than other scientists.”

6. They Drive the Creative Industries

Creative Industries? You probably think we made that up. But we didn’t.

The Creative Industries are arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, theaters, and symphonies to for-profit film, architecture, and design companies.

Cohen sites a 2017 analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data that counts “673,656 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts.”

To put it in perspective, that’s 4%of all businesses and 2% of all employees. That’s a whole lotta folks not just embracing the arts – but making a living from them.

7. They Unify Communities

According to Cohen:

72% of Americans believe “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity.”

73% agree that the arts “helps me understand other cultures better”

Once again, this was a perspective observed across all demographic and economic categories. And certainly a relevant one during these times of such decisiveness.

8. They Have Social Impact

Research out of the University of Pennsylvania demonstrated that “a high concentration of the arts in a city leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, and lower poverty rates.”

Enough said.

9. They Drive Tourism and Local Revenue

Have you ever thought about what someone is spending when they attend a nonprofit arts event?

We’re not talking about admission expenses here.

On average, local attendees will spend $31.47 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on things such as meals, parking, and people to care for their children.

That’s a serious boost to local commerce.

Then there are the attendees who live outside the county in which the arts event is being held. For them, the average shoots up to $47.57 per person, per event.

Yep. Those who travel for the arts make for ideal tourists. They stay longer and spend more money to experience authentic cultural experiences.

10. They Heal Injuries of War for Service People

Service members and veterans attempting to heal from the physical, mental and moral injuries of war consistently rank creative therapies in the top four out of 40 treatments and interventions.

It makes perfect sense.

As Cohen says, “across the military continuum, the arts promote resilience during pre-deployment, deployment, and the reintegration of military service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers into communities.”

The Arts Are a Necessary Component of a Civilized Society

We’re grateful to Randy Cohen and the pioneering work he does each year uncovering so many great reasons to support the arts.

At our arts academy high school, we recognize the sustaining power of the arts.

That’s why we utilize arts integration to strike the perfect balance between arts and academics for our students.

If you’d like to find out more, contact us today. We’d be happy to give you a tour of the school


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