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Making the Case for the Support of the Arts

Are the economic benefits of the arts the best argument for support, or

just the only one we offer?

orchestra musicians

Funding for the arts today faces many challenges from all sides. The arts must compete for limited funding with pressing humanitarian needs, and the economic recovery still has not reached many people.

What are the best arguments for support of the arts? The articles, blogs, and research papers listed below offer guidance to making a convincing argument for support, but they also point out where arts organizations may have gone wrong in relying on some arguments while ignoring others.

Issuelab by Candid presents research on contemporary issues in the social sector, including Arts & Culture. With papers published by some 400 organizations, Issuelab is a rich and diverse resource. (Note: Candid was formerly known as the Foundation Center.)

Arts Funding is Facing a Dire Crisis. Melissa Cowley Wolf of the Arts Funders Forum explores how we position the arts in the wider field of philanthropy is critical to attract new sources of funding.

The Arts as a Conduit for Rediscovering Our Humanity Josephine Ramirez, Executive Vice President of The Music Center Arts in Los Angeles County, discusses the importance of the arts in the time ofl Covid-19.

Everything We Know about Whether and How the Arts Improve Lives

From, a 2016 summary of findings mainly on research about the extrinsic value of the arts.

Understanding the Value of Arts and Culture
This 2016 study from the U.K. debunks many of the assertions of various other studies listed below, just as was predicted in "Gifts of the Muse."

McCarthy, Kevin et al, Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate about the Value of the Arts (executive summary)(RAND Corporation, 2004)
Available as a free download, but it can also be purchased as a soft cover book for $18.

Gifts of the Muse (Full Study). It systematically reviews the extrinsic and intrinsic benefits of the arts as put forth in many previous studies.

Imaginative Actuality: Learning in the Arts During the Nonschool Hours A study done by non-arts sector social scientists on the benefits of arts education.

Revisiting Research (Grantmakers in the Arts, Fall 2012) takes a new look at the RAND study and others.

Arts Assessment: Let's Stop "Proving" and Start Improving. Blog post by Nina Simon on using data to improve the arts experience rather than constantly (and defensively) seeking to prove its worth.

Is Music the Key to Success? This New York Times article points out a number of prominent people who had music training in their youth and tries to draw a connection.

Former bassoonist wins major science award Thomas Suedhof credits his bassoon teacher for his success as a scientist.

Studio Thinking examines the "habits of mind" developed in visual arts classes that benefit students' other studies.

Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art, a long-range study on 12,000 students to discover the effect of arts learning on their lives.

Ragsdale, Diane. "The arts have intrinsic value. If you don't believe that, I have an economic impact study to show you."
Blog posting on the conflicts between intrinsic and extrinsic reasons to support the arts.

Making a Better Case for the Arts, from Arts Journal, a wide-ranging online discussion.

Schultz, Julianne. Culture's Impact on the Whole of Society

Root-Bernstein, Michele and Robert, "Why Cutting Arts Funding is Not a Good Idea," Psychology Today

National Arts Index: 2012/An Annual Measure of the Vitality of the Arts in the United States, 1998-2012

The Performing Arts in Lean Times.

Kay, John, "A good economist knows the true value of the arts"

Dobrzynski, Judith H. "Bauerlein: How Not To Save Arts Education," Arts Journal.
A review of a blog posting on arts education for arts' sake.

Americans for the Arts. "Why the Arts Matter Video Contest."

Wells, David Wallace. "The Pirate's Prophet: On Lewis Hyde," The Nation.
Article on Lewis Hyde and his thesis on the role of the artist in society.

Americans for the Arts. "Arts Education: Creating Student Success in School, Work, and Life"
An advocacy paper, heavily reliant on the extrinsic values arguments, starts on page 5 of this PDF.

Seattle Arts Education Consortium, "Powerful Learning Through the Arts" (promotional video)

from TED Talks: How playing an instrument benefits your brain - Anita Collins

And on the lighter side...

Explaining an Arts Nonprofit
Hysterical animated video on the basics of the nonprofit arts.

An important message about the arts' - an animated video by artist David Shrigley

A farmer explains to his son the importance of the arts with typically wry (and somewhat off-color) British humor

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