Guest column – Business should boost arts

For any business that sees itself as being firmly rooted in society, support of the arts is essential.

There are a number of powerful reasons for the business community to remain steadfast in its support of the arts, especially now when the arts face tough economic challenges.

The arts are an important tool for connecting people and communities, for expanding our understanding of the world and for inspiring creativity – critical tenets for any successful business.

Equally important, arts organizations are community anchors, acting as engines for economic and social vitality.

And communities with rich economic and social infrastructures are ones where business thrives.

The benefits of the arts have been demonstrated time and again.

In 2002, Americans for the Arts found that the nonprofit arts industry generates $134 billion in economic activity every year and results in more than $24 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.

Businesses of all sizes have a critical role to play in supporting the arts, and there are important areas companies can support with a modest investment.

They include providing general operating support, the vital “fuel for the engine”; funding emerging artists and new works, the pipeline for future growth; and helping organizations build audiences by supporting community outreach, marketing and tours.

Working together, we can serve as advocates for the arts community and advance the case for supporting a vital cultural life in our communities.

This will ensure that the arts continue to thrive, as well as enhance companies’ ability to operate in an economically sound and dynamic business environment.

Lisa Walker is director, contributions, for Altria Corporate Services, Altria Group Inc., parent company of Kraft Foods, Philip Morris International and Philip Morris USA.

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