Arts and culture organizations deliver an economic ROI for communities. You might expect the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts to make the case for artworks, but Rocco Landesman makes the case that art works as an economic development driver and key component in any urban revitalization effort.
Landesman spoke to an audience at the International Economic Development Council in Columbus, OH, on Monday. Arts-related jobs “are real jobs,” notes Landesman, employing more than 5.7 million people. More importantly, arts-related investment stabilizes neighborhoods, promotes better education and fights poverty by helping to create clusters of creative enterprise that in turn generates more business to support it.
Landesman notes that the arts:
1) Contribute to the livability of a community. “The arts engage us and delight us,” he says, and are a linchpin along with quality education in drawing people to a community as a place to live.
2) Nurture innovation by aggregating clusters of creative people, the types of clusters Richard Florida speaks of in his book “The rise of the Creative Class” that contribute greatly to community vitality.
3) Create tremendous opportunities for brand identity for communities.
4) Drive local economies by creating opportunities for people to spend more time – and money – in their own neighborhoods and communities and draw more visitors.
Artists are often able to convert abandoned industrial buildings and transform them into studio space, creating vibrant neighborhoods and attracting new merchants and restaurants.
The NEA is taking the wraps off it Our Town initiative that will award $5 million to 35 communities for programs that would provide home equity loans and rent subsidies for living and working spaces to encourage artists to move to downtown areas, finance public art projects and performances, and promote architectural preservation in downtown area.