David Byrne: What Good Are The Arts? Let Us Count The Ways...

David Byrne at City Hall, New York, March 2, 2017

David Byrne at City Hall, New York, March 2, 2017

Yes, the arts need no real justification for investment. But if they ever did... then their return on investment would be ridiculously impressive. That's the case made by David Byrne, multimedia artistic titan and founder of Talking Heads, on the steps of New York City Hall just a few days ago. He's speaking in the context of Trump's intent to eliminate $741 million of federal funding for the public arts.

Some excerpts from his blog below:

A recent study called Arts and Economic Prosperity found that nationally the non-profit arts (we're not talking about Broadway shows, pop concerts, video games, movies or the art world) generates $135.2 BILLION in economic activity in the US.

If one includes other kinds of for-profit arts organizations, the number jumps up, way up:

In 2013, the production of arts and cultural goods added more than $704 billion to the U.S. economy. This amounts to 4.23% of GDP. The arts and cultural sector contribute more to the national economy than do the construction, agriculture, mining, utilities, and travel and tourism sectors.

Here is a graphic with a similar number

And that's not all—the arts also have positive effects on health, safety, education... and their presence lowers the crime and child abuse rate—all at bargain rates!

A study released this month by researchers from the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania has revealed a quantitative relationship between the presence of cultural resources in a neighborhood and key aspects of social wellbeing, particularly in underserved neighborhoods. In New York City, the relative higher presence of cultural resources in lower-income neighborhoods is linked with serious health, safety, and education benefits. These include a 14% decrease in indicted investigations of child abuse and neglect, an 18% decrease in felony crime rate and also a 17-18% increase in the number of students scoring at the highest level on standardized Math and English tests. Other ways of making these improvements in our communities are much more expensive—and often not as effective.

More here.