Monday, February 09, 2009

My Letter to the Tulsa World

Tulsa World
P.O. Box 1770
Tulsa, OK 74102-1770

Re: Include the Arts in National Economic Recovery Efforts

Dear Tulsa World:

As Congress considers the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the arts and culture sector must be included. The arts are essential to the health and vitality of our communities. They enhance community development; spur urban renewal; attract new businesses; draw tourism dollars; and create an environment that attracts skilled, educated workers and builds a robust 21st century workforce.

Nonprofit arts organizations such as the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Opera, and Theatre Tulsa, to name but a few, are proud members of the business community—employing people locally, purchasing goods and services within the community, and involved in the marketing and promotion of their cities. In fact, there are more full-time jobs supported by the nonprofit arts than are in accounting, public safety officers, even lawyers and just slightly fewer than elementary school teachers.

According to Americans for the Arts, a $50 million investment to the National Endowment for the Arts will provide critical funding to save 14,422 jobs from being lost in the U.S. economy. This is based on the ability of the NEA to leverage $7 in additional support through local, state and private donations, for every $1 in NEA subsidies.

There are approximately 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations, which spend $63.1 billion annually. Without an economic stimulus for the nonprofit arts industry, experts expect about 10% of these organizations (ranging from large arts institutions like museums and orchestras to small community-based organizations in suburban, urban and rural areas) to shut their doors in 2009 - a loss of 260,000 jobs.

In a report released in mid-January, the National Governor's Association stated, "Arts and culture are important to state economies. Arts and culture-related industries, also known as "creative industries," provide direct economic benefits to states and communities: They create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues, and stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases." A recent arts economic impact study in Tulsa showed that every person attending an arts performance generates 27.47 for our economy. If we conservatively estimate last night's performance of Cinderella at 2,100 attendees, than last night's performance alone brought $57,687 into Tulsa's economy.

Then-NEA Chairman Dana Gioia issued the following statement prior to his departure, "Arts organizations have been hit enormously hard by the current recession. They've seen their support drop from corporations, foundations, and municipalities. This infusion of funds will help sustain them, their staffs, and the artists they employ. We are hopeful that Congress and the new administration will support this important investment."


Martha Mattes

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