Why Arts and Humanities Is A Smart Investment

19 July 2014

Culture is a valuable part of any society. Some people think arts education is not worth spending money on, but history shows that culture is a sector were dollars should be investment. A healthy education in the arts stimulates creativity and enhances critical thinking. Encouraging creation allows the artist to express themselves as well as offers a type of recreation for the patrons on the receiving end of the arts.


For example, writing books is an art form where the authors can express themselves. People can support an author's books by buying them or coming to see the author speak about the book. The author is able to take his idea and generate a living for himself while adding value to society.


Government Investment in Culture


While there are those that want to reduce spending on the arts, the government has actually been a catalyst in stimulating the growth of arts education. The Regan Administration created the President's Council on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) in 1982. Currently the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama is Honorary Chair of this Committee, and its responsibility is to advise the White House on cultural issues.


The PCAH is composed of members from the private and public sector. They address policy issues on culture while working with the White House Administration, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The budget for the NEA in 2011 was $158,000,000 USD, and the NEH's budget was $167,500,000 USD in 2010. The IMLS's budget was slightly larger at $225 million for 2013.


The figures of these three independent government agencies indicate almost a half a billion dollars being spent on enhancing the United States arts culture. Government investment in culture does not seem to be slowing down.  


Corporate Spending on Arts Education


In 2012, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance released a study showing the impact of arts and culture organizations in the Philadelphia area. The result was a staggering $3.3 billion dollar return on investment in the local economy. Most of the money was initially invested by other businesses in the region. The largest bank in America, Bank of America, believes the arts and culture agenda is important to the economic landscape.


Similar investments in arts and humanities projects can be found all over the country. It addition to enhancing the civil life of society, businesses can often take a tax deduction for donating corporate monies. It is a winning situation for the community, the businesses and government.


Private Citizens Investing in the Arts and Humanities


Along with business and government investment in culture, individual citizens also spend money in this sector too. It is more involved than just spending on books, plays and art exhibits.  Investing in art has become just as important as investing in stocks or real estate. Billionaire Steve Wynn recently, in May 2014, bought a statue of the cartoon character Popeye created by artist Jeff Koons for $28 million dollars.


As government investment in culture continues to grow, businesses will continue to follow the money trail looking to profit from the arts and humanities sector. Investments in books, theatre and other forms of art will continue to help the society grow and encourage much needed enlightenment as a whole.

Carlton L. Lewis - the Italian bookclub


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