10 Reasons Why We Need the Arts

“Do the arts really make a difference in a rural community?”

The arts are essential. Not just nice to have, sometimes. Not just an add-on when things are better, maybe later. The arts are essential. Now!

With everything else going on in the world at the moment, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of things that will make a difference in the long term. Some might be tempted to ask, “Do the arts really make a difference in a rural community?”

It’s a good question, and the answer is an emphatic, Yes, they do!” We are going to highlight some of the specific ways the arts make a difference for us all, but we’ll start now with the big picture. Here are ten good, practical — and factual — reasons why we need the arts, now more than ever. (With special thanks to our friends at Americans for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts):

1. Arts promote true prosperity.

The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts bring us joy, help us express our values, and build bridges between cultures. The arts also are a fundamental component of a healthy community—strengthening them socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times.

2. Arts unify our communities.

72% of Americans believe “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity,” and 73% agree that the arts “helps me understand other cultures better”—a perspective observed across all demographic and economic categories. 

3. Arts improve individual well being.

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

4. Arts improve academic performance.

Students engaged in arts learning have higher GPAs, standardized test scores, and college-going rates as well as lower drop-out rates. These academic benefits are reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. 91% of Americans believe that arts are part of a well-rounded K-12 education.

5. Arts strengthen the economy.

The creative industry — music, theater, dance, literary arts, visual arts, folk arts, crafts — generates high-quality jobs and tax revenues for rural communities. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $166.3 billion in economic activity annually — spending by organizations and their audiences — which supports 4.6 million jobs and generates $27.5 billion in government revenue.

6. Arts drive tourism and revenue to local businesses.

Attendees at nonprofit arts events spend $31.47 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals and shopping with local businesses. 34% of attendees live outside the county in which the arts event takes place; they average $47.57 in event-related spending. Arts travelers are ideal tourists, staying longer and spending more to seek out authentic cultural experiences.

7. Arts drive the creative industries.

Innovative businesses are more common in rural areas with arts organizations. Innovative or design-integrated businesses are up to 70% more likely to locate in, or move to rural counties that host two or three arts organizations, and 85% more likely when there are four or more arts organizations.

8. The arts encourage growth beyond the creative industry.

Artisans, knowledge workers and others interested in social, cultural and quality of life issues are three times more likely to relocate to rural communities that are the home of an arts organization. These new workers and families diversify and stimulate local economies, create new jobs, and encourage cultural activity, all of which help families and communities thrive.

9. Arts spark creativity and innovation.

Creativity is among the top five applied skills sought by business leaders: 72% say creativity is of high importance when hiring. Research on creativity shows that Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times more likely to be actively engaged in the arts than other scientists.

10. The arts have social impact.

Research shows that arts initiatives in rural communities strengthen collective sense of identity, increase social and civic engagement, build resilience to inequity, improve regional economic and social networks, and promote rural sustainability and revitalization.

Social Impact Explorer wheel

Want to know more? Use the interactive Americans for the Arts Social Impact Explorer for a closer look at the specific impact the arts have on communities and the solid research behind the findings.

If you would like to dig deeper, here is a list of the sources we used to compile the information summarized here.

You can be a part of it!

Donate now to help support the arts in Sharon Springs.
The arts make a difference!