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Are We Actually Underestimating the True Value of the Arts?

Mr. Swanson is trained to look at such studies with a healthy skepticism, and to point out problems in the methodology. But rather than overstating our case, this leading regional economist is saying that, if anything, we are underestimating the true value of the arts to the community and to area economic vitality. Whoa! That’s criticism we can all live with. $135 billion in economic expenditures nationwide is only a glimpse of what art adds to our nation as a whole. I knew that we were unable to get information from a large percentage of eligible organizations, and I also was well aware that the for-profit sector—private art galleries, production companies, professional artists—were not part of this study, both of which would add to the final report on economic impact. But I did not expect a top-level economist to make an argument that sounded like one we might make, essentially preaching to the choir.

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