Impact of the Arts

Why are culture and the arts important? Most people who participate in art and cultural activities would say that these activities enhance the quality of their lives - they bring about personal enjoyment, enriching perspectives, intellectual stimulation, and opportunities for public involvement. But the arts and/or expressive culture also have broader impacts beyond the individual level. They can fuel community and economic development.

Building Community

Because art is about crossing boundaries and seeing things in different ways it can be a vehicle for public discussion, understanding social issues, and building social connections. Through participation and political action, citizens can shape their community to better reflect their values.

Art, for example, can be used to engage people in neighborhood revitalization. A decaying building can be transformed into one with productive uses or an abandoned area can be converted into a community garden. These activities help develop community identity and collective pride. Art can also be used to engage youth in civic activities such as beautifying urban spaces by painting wall murals. All it takes is some creativity and collective wisdom to think of the myriad ways that culture and the arts can be used for community benefit.

Economic Development

Several researchers have argued that people are increasingly first choosing where they want to live and then seeking employment there. In today's economy, the ability to attract and retain creative human talent is the key to economic growth. Communities are competing to get the most talented and brightest workers by selling them on the cultural vibrancy of their communities—the restaurants, art galleries, music scene, architecture, public gardens, and so on. In fact, the cities that are most successful in attracting workers are the ones that have exciting art and cultural offerings. The arts and culture sector is an integral part of the new economy.

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