Americans for the Arts


A former professor of mine shared the website for the Art Advocacy organization “AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS” which features a brilliant segment outlining some key talking points related to support for the Arts and Arts Education.  It is a great resource for educators, performers and local government officials – enjoy!

Arts in Society

  • The arts are integral to the lives of our citizens. We appreciate them for their intrinsic benefits—their beauty and vision and how they inspire, soothe, provoke, and connect us. The arts ennoble us as people. They provide bridges between cultures. They embody the accumulated wisdom, intellect, and imagination of humankind (it’s how you track our civilization on the radar screen). Government and private-sector support are essential to promote full access to and participation in exhibits, performances, arts education, and other cultural events regardless of family income.
  • The arts are essential to the health and vitality of our communities and our nation. They improve the quality of life in our cities and town. They enhance community development; spur urban renewal; attract new businesses; draw tourism dollars; and create an environment that attracts skilled, educated workers and builds your third millennium workforce.
  • In the rapidly changing (and challenging) times in which we live, the arts are salve for the ache. Both military and civilian populations have long relied on the arts for inspiration, to hold up morale, to fight anxiety, and to express our democratic values. Arts leaders are strong partners, especially in tough times. During the Nazi blitz on London, Winston Churchill was asked to close the theaters by his military leaders. His response was, ”Good God, man, what the hell are we fighting for?”

Why the Arts Need Support

  • Support for the nonprofit arts in the United States is a mosaic of funding sources—an ever-changing mix of earned revenue, government support, and private-sector contributions. Nonprofit arts organizations are generally able to earn only half of the money it takes to sustain their operation. The other half must be raised through contributions and grants. Even small fluctuations in contributed revenue can mean deficits for many organizations. Why the high costs? One reason is that the arts are a labor-intensive industry, one that employs people locally.   More (pdf, 128KB)

Arts Funding by Businesses

  • With its more than $3 billion in arts funding, businesses play a key role in ensuring the health and vitality of the nation’s arts sector. Business support to the arts largely follows the performance of the nation’s economy. There were significant decreases between 2000 and 2005, followed by modest increases between 2006 and 2008. Americans for the Arts is forecasting a decrease in business arts support in 2009.   More (pdf, 63KB)

Arts Funding by Government

  • Local government arts funding reached an all time high in 2008, up an estimated five percent to $858 million, marking a fourth consecutive year of growth.
  • State legislative arts appropriations in 2008 increased for the fourth consecutive year—up 2.7 percent to $359.6 million.
  • The 2008 congressional appropriations to the NEA was the agency’s largest increase in 28 years, up 16 percent to $144.7 million.
  • Decreases in local and state funding are forecasted for 2009 and 2010.
    More (pdf, 45KB)

Creative Industries: Business & Employment in the Arts

  • The arts are a formidable industry in the United States, with nearly 100,000 nonprofit arts and culture organizations (e.g., museums, dance companies, symphonies, zoos, arts schools). Adding in for-profit arts businesses (such as film, design, publishing, and architecture), there are 612,095 businesses in the United States involved in the creation or distribution of the arts that employ 2.98 million people. Nationally, arts businesses represent 4.3 percent of all business and 2.2 percent of all employees. The source for these data is Dun & Bradstreet, the most comprehensive and trusted source for business information in the United States. When policy and funding decisions are made, we need to consider how it affects the arts industry.   More
  • The arts attract a skilled and educated workforce to communities. That in turn brings businesses looking for talent. Cities that want this competitive advantage use Creative Industry data to measure themselves by.

Economic Impact

  • Most of us appreciate the intrinsic benefits of the arts—their beauty and vision and how they inspire, soothe, provoke, and connect us. When it comes time to make tough funding choices, however, elected officials and business leaders also need to have strong and credible data that demonstrate the economic benefits of a vibrant nonprofit arts and culture industry.
  • Nonprofit arts organizations are members of the business community—employing people locally, purchasing goods and services within the community, and involved in the marketing and promotion of their cities. Nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences generate $166.2 billion dollar in economic activity every year—$63.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences, proving that the arts are an economic driver in their communities that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is the cornerstone of tourism.
  • When we reduce their support for the arts, we are not cutting frills. Rather, we’re undercutting an industry that is a cornerstone of tourism, economic development, and the revitalization of many downtowns. When we increase support for the arts, we are generating tax revenues, jobs, and a creativity-based economy.   More
  • The typical attendee to a nonprofit arts event spends $27.79 per person, per event (excluding admission) on transportation, lodging, and other event-related costs. Nonlocal attendees spend twice as much as their local counterparts ($40.19 vs. $19.53). Thirty-nine percent of attendees are nonlocal. Few industries can boast this kind of event-related spending.   More (pdf, 37KB)


  • Students who participate in the arts, both in school and after school, demonstrate improved academic performance and lower dropout rates. Despite including the arts as being one of the ten core academic subjects, the No Child Left Behind law has helped to push arts classes to the side. Schools, especially those struggling, can retain their best teachers by becoming incubators for creativity and innovation; places where students want to learn and teachers want to teach.   More (pdf, 461KB)
  • Students with an education rich in the arts have better grade point averages, score better on standardized tests in reading and math, and have lower dropout rates—findings that cut across all socio-economic categories.The arts can “level the playing field” for youngsters from disadvantaged circumstances.   More (pdf, 153KB)
  • Data from The College Board shows that students who take four years of arts and music classes while in high school score 98 points better on their SATs than students who took only one-half year or less.   More (pdf, 39KB)

Parents Want More Arts in the Schools

  • A 2006 Harris Poll on the attitudes of Americans toward arts education revealed that 93 percent of Americans agree that the arts are vital to providing a well-rounded education for children. Additionally, 54 percent rated the importance of arts education a “ten” on a scale of one to ten. More (pdf, 263KB)

Workforce Development

  • Ready to Innovate, a new study published by the Conference Board (serving the Fortune 1000 U.S. companies) provides the first research-based evidence that connects the arts to creativity and innovation. U.S. employers rate creativity/innovation among the top five skills that will increase in importance over the next five years, and rank it among the top challenges facing CEOs. Ninety-seven percent of employers and 99 percent of school superintendents say creativity is increasingly important in U.S. workplaces. Seventy-two percent of employers say creativity is of primary concern when they’re hiring—and 85 percent of these employers can’t find the creative applicants they seek. “Arts-related study in college” is a key creativity indicator to potential employers.
  • The report concludes that “it is clear that the arts—music, creative writing, drawing, dance—provide skills sought by employers of the third millennium.”   Read the full report (pdf, 629KB)

A Vibrant Arts Community Is Important to the Business Community

  • A strong arts and arts education presence in the community will develop the kind of workers business leaders need to compete in the 21st century global economy. With tough times, innovation and creativity are more important than ever. A strong arts sector helps attract and retain skilled and educated workers.
  • In tough economic times, cities will compete aggressively to attract and retain businesses in an effort to shore up sagging economies. A strong arts and culture sector and a creative workforce are critical factors in attracting and keeping businesses.
  • In tough times, people will take more “staycations,” as they look to avoid airfares. A strong arts sector will encourage people to stay local and attend cultural events close to home, boosting the local economy.
  • The decline in business, personal, and real estate tax revenues are hurting local economies. Spending by cultural tourists will pour more sales and hotel tax dollars into municipal coffers, which means fewer cuts in city services and a decreased likelihood of tax increases—good news for businesses.


  • According the Travel Industry Association, cultural tourists spend more ($631 vs. $457), are more likely to use a hotel (62 percent vs. 56 percent), travel longer (5.2 nights vs. 4.1 nights), and are more likely to spend $1,000+ (18 percent vs. 12 percent) than the average traveler.   More (pdf, 125KB)

Downtown Revitalization

  • Public art and a vibrant cultural community beautifies and animates cities, provides employment, attracts residents and tourists, complements adjacent businesses, enhances property values, expands the tax base, attracts well-educated employees, and contributes to a creative and innovative environment.


  • Studies by the U.S. Department of Justice researchers demonstrate increased pro-social behavior among youth involved with arts programs. The YouthARTS® Project demonstrates that these programs have a measurable impact on youth at risk in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems, promoting more pro-social behavior, improving communications skills with peers and adults, increased ability to complete tasks from start to finish, and fewer new court referrals.   More (pdf, 138KB)
  • Research by Dr. Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University shows that “young people who are actively engaged in arts learning and arts productions improve their self esteem and confidence, assume leadership roles, and improve their overall school performance.” What’s interesting: Dr. Heath wasn’t studying the arts—rather, studying after-school programs. Her data revealed a remarkable outlier of effectiveness—which turned out to be the arts.   More (pdf, 1978KB)

Public Housing

  • Research sponsored by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development demonstrates that arts programs in public housing areas increase neighborhood pride, decrease vandalism, provide safe havens, improve inter-generational communications, and increase tolerance between different cultures and ethnicities.   More (pdf, 5840KB)

Cognitive Development

  • Neuroscientists at seven major universities found strong links between arts education and cognitive development (e.g., thinking, problem solving, concept understanding, information processing, and overall intelligence). Children motivated in the arts develop attention skills and memory retrieval that also apply to other subject areas.    More (pdf, 151KB)


  • In the past 30 years, healthcare costs have risen from 6 to 16 percent of the nation’s GDP—exceeding $2.5 trillion in 2007. Nearly half of the nation’s healthcare institutions provide arts programming for patients, families, and staff. Seventy-eight percent provide these programs because they benefit patients and create a healing environment. The arts can promote faster healing, shorter hospital stays, and lower medication usage. At Children’s Hospital in Tallahassee, using the arts during preparation for pediatric CAT Scans saved $567 per procedure.   More (pdf, 127KB)


  • We are all getting grayer. In a controlled research by the Center on Aging, researchers found that older Americans involved in the arts demonstrated better health, fewer doctor visits, and less medication usage—saving money and improving quality of life.    More (pdf, 2763KB)

Americans Want More Arts in Their Lives

According to the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2002 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, the public wants to increase its arts attendance:

  • 67 percent would like to visit more museums.
  • 54 percent want to see more theater productions or musicals.
  • 50 percent would like to attend more dance performances.

More Americans attended a live arts event than attended a sporting event in 2002 (39 percent vs. 35 percent). A statistical outlier? Hardly. In 1992, 41 percent of Americans attended an arts event, more than the 37 percent who attended a sporting event.   More (pdf, 478KB)

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Visit or link to the site here:


~ by Calliope on January 6, 2009.

One Response to “Americans for the Arts”

  1. This info is great Jen. I would like to print it out to add to my advocacy info, but I doubt it would print well on the black background. Do you have the information in another form? I would like to share this with the other art teachers too.

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