Investing in arts a necessity during recession

Posted on: September 15, 2009

In Monday’s (9/14) Atlanta Journal-Constitution , Joseph R. Bankoff, president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center, home of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, writes, “Sometimes I am asked: ‘Does it make sense in this economy to support the arts given all of the other challenges we are facing?’ For Atlanta and Georgia as we seek to compete for knowledge-based jobs, development and global investment, the real question is, ‘Can we afford not to reinvest in the arts?’ Forty years ago, Atlanta’s $8 million investment in the Memorial Arts Building sparked the explosive development of Midtown. Support for various arts over the years has anchored remarkable job growth, now giving Atlanta the highest per-capita number of arts-related jobs of any major city in the country. … In short, private support of the arts has catapulted the development of Atlanta as an attractive center of culture and creativity. It has helped to attract businesses and the people we need to compete. Every dollar spent to create the Memorial Arts Building in 1968 has returned more than $1,000 in taxable development over the past 40 years in Midtown alone. … The arts in Atlanta are about culture, education, jobs and economic development. Our future success requires that we maintain a leadership position as a creative community in which business, education and innovation can thrive.”

Also in Monday’s (9/14) Atlanta Journal-Constitution , the paper’s editorial board calls for greater support of the arts. “The arts have always danced through a delicate, dual performance that brings us the concerts and plays that lift our collective spirits while fulfilling the back-office functions that pay the bills and keep stages lit. That’s true for vest-pocket theater companies working with shoestring budgets all the way up to the Woodruff Arts Center, which oversees an Atlanta-sized chunk of the arts biz. … That’s a tough dance these days. The Georgia Council for the Arts awarded $4.02 million in funding in fiscal 2009. For fiscal 2010, that amount is $2.78 million. … In a region of 5 million people, there should be more than adequate room—and hopefully a commensurate level of community financial support—for arts venues large and small across the area. … A robust arts community can be a classy coda to the sales pitches made by economic development officials to companies seeking a new home.”

Posted September 15, 2009