Cultural capital

Philanthropic investment in the arts can pay big dividends.

By Todd Cohen

[05.12.04] – Rather than treating them as a frill, particularly in times of economic and social stress, communities should recognize the arts can help drive social and economic health and change.

The arts enrich people and communities, create jobs and can be a powerful teaching tool.

Last week, corporate and civic leaders in Charlotte, N.C., launched a public-private effort to raise $190 million for cultural facilities.

And this week, The Boston Foundation called for $1.1 billion in state investment to fix and build cultural facilities, while the North Carolina Arts Council reported that nonprofit arts groups generate an economic impact of $723 million and 7,000 jobs.

“Arts and cultural organizations are essential for strong, healthy communities and central to educating our children and to lifelong learning,” the Boston Foundation said.

It also alled for cultural groups to work with the travel industry and government to boost cultural tourism, and urged greater investment in groups that provide management and fundraising help to cultural organizations.

Nonprofit arts groups need strong public and private investment to sustain their programs and facilities, strengthen their internal operations, and continue playing a critical role in the social, civic and economic health of our communities.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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