Benefits of the Arts
The arts industry creates and sustains public value in a wide range of important ways, both intrinsically to the lives of people and instrumentally to the advancement of communities. Likewise the State Arts Agency, which in New Jersey is the largest single supporter of that work, creates public value by the way it operates and the leadership it provides. Moreover the public value created by the arts can be framed in the following major ways:
Study and practice of the arts are essential to a quality and complete K-12 education. Students who study the arts learn invaluable life and professional skills that prepare them well for the 21st century workplace in which creativity and integrative thinking, as well as teamwork, self-discipline and self-confidence are essential. Such students also perform better in other subjects, excel in student activities and become more actively engaged in civics upon graduation. The arts are well known to have saved the lives of children at risk because they reach us in deeply personal ways. And we now know that engagement in the arts throughout a lifetime and, in particular, in our senior years, can have profound effects on our health and well-being.
Economic and Community Development
The arts have proven themselves to be powerful engines to support the growth and development of healthy and economically viable communities. Art work and the arts institutions themselves provide and support other jobs, and make downtowns more attractive to people and other businesses. The millions of people who attend arts events spend twice their ticket price in the local economy. They give identity and character to towns and neighborhoods. They are catalysts for bringing people and neighborhoods together.
Support for Key Industries
The arts are a vital and growing sector of the travel and tourism industry, New Jersey's 2nd largest industry. The expenditures of arts institutions support other fields such as advertising, printing, food and design. Cultural opportunities are frequently cited among the top reasons why corporations locate, stay and expand because they are key to attracting and retaining the highly skilled workforce that industry demands. The arts as part of the creative economy are a powerful magnet for attracting talent and resources.
Identity, Celebration, Commemoration and Community Building
The arts are immensely powerful forces in building our sense of identity and in harmonizing and celebrating the astonishing cultural diversity of our state. In all matters of social crisis and tragedy, it is the arts that we turn to for healing. They teach us tolerance, respect and understanding for other cultures. They celebrate our social, religious and communal values. We almost reflexively turn to the arts to commemorate the great accomplishments and events of our society. They are what we bestow upon future generations with our greatest sense of pride and accomplishment.
The New Jersey State Arts Agency
The State Arts Agency and its network of 21 County Arts Agencies also create and ensure a unique set of public values in the distribution of public resources to support the arts industry. They guarantee a level playing field in terms of access to the resources and the process, criteria and principles by which merits are assessed and funding decisions are made. They provide high levels of accountability to the public through contracts and reports to ensure that the activities supported are accomplished and the funding is expended properly. They provide information and key leadership on issues of importance to the entire industry.