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Finding the Right Words: Facts and Figures to Aid Your Fight for the Arts

Making the Case for the Arts Session – #AFTA11

It is now more important than ever to defend funding and preservation of the arts. This was the subject of “Making the Case for the Arts,” a session at this year’s Americans for the Arts convention.

While many reasons for supporting the arts were addressed, Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts, presented research mostly on the significance of the arts with regard to education, the economy, personal development, and healthcare.

Education. Studies show that, regardless of income level, students who are highly active in the arts are less likely to drop out of school by 10th grade (1.4 percent vs. 4.8 percent).

Also, students who participated in the arts earned an average of 92.5 points higher on their SAT scores over the past 12 years, compared to students who did not participate in the arts. Plus, The Conference Board’s Ready to Innovate study confirmed that involvement in the arts develops skills current employers desire in potential employees.

The Economy. The annual expenditures of the nonprofit arts and culture industry is $166.2 billion, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity III study. The amount of jobs created by arts-related organizations is one of the most significant reasons for fighting for the arts in the downturn of an economy. In San Diego alone, 9,292 arts-related businesses provide jobs to 35,361 people. Data on specific regions may be found at, and your organization’s regional economic impact may be estimated with the Arts & Economic Prosperity III Calculator.

Cohen argued that arts/culture events benefit communities, since the average person spends $27.79 per event (not including the price of admission), and non-local audience members spend approximately twice as much as local attendees.

Cohen also claimed that the arts have essentially become an export industry, since research proves that an increasing amount of foreigners engage in the arts while visiting the United States.

Personal Development. Learning, Arts, and the Brain, a study released by The Dana Consortium Report on Arts and Cognition, revealed that education in the arts improves cognitive development. Specifically, dance improves observational faculties, acting enhances memory skills and speech capabilities, and music develops analytical thinking and reading ability.

Healthcare. Studies illustrate that arts improve health care, particularly art exhibits, performances in hospitals, and art activities for patients and employees.

The figures mentioned throughout Cohen’s presentation are readily available online, and should be included in proposals for arts programs, funding requests, etc.  Many of the sources cited may be found at

With facts and figures like these at our fingertips, it’s up to us to utilize them in our efforts. Let’s unite and truly make a strong case for the arts!

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