Art in Perilby Ken Collins on 03/03/10
The need to justify the arts never seems to end, and in poor economic times such as these, that justification becomes a tough battle.
We hear the same argument over and over FOR arts in the school as they are being cut because of budget restraints - learning through the arts results in greater academic achievement and higher test scores. That argument doesn't seem to work because the art programs in schools continue to take a hit.
But what about outside of the schools? Consider this (as municipally-funded arts programs are being cut) . . . what is the consequence of these cuts? What does a community need to survive? A community needs property taxes, gross receipts, and lodgers taxes to grow. In other words . . . people need to live in the community and pay their property taxes. Businesses need to sell goods and services to contribute to gross receipts. People need to visit the community and stay in hotels to generate lodgers tax revenue.
What are the two municipal entities that continue to remain at the top of the list for funding while all others must cut funding until they bleed? Police and Fire. But we need police and fire departments, you say. Of course we do . . . and I have many friends who work for police and fire. But, do police and fire cause revenue from property taxes, gross receipts, and lodgers tax? Before you answer, think about the community in which you live. Have you ever heard anybody say they moved to your community because of the police and/or fire departments? Most of you would say no.
Above all other things, what attracts new residents, new businesses, and visitors to your community? The answer is quality of life. Recreation and cultural facilities and programs are the cause of most of the attraction. If your community is not attracting residents, business, or vistors it is because the recreation and cultural facilities and programs are not sufficient enough to do so. Without attracting new residents, new business, and visitors to your community, your community can not generate the funds necessary for growth . . . and may even begin to not have the ability to generate the funds necessary to sustain itself.
The point I'm trying to make here is this. Just as in the schools, when you cut funding for the "non-necessities," such as art programs, you jeopardize your own future. It is time to redefine what is necessary. I contend that arts programs are every bit as necessary as police and fire - maybe more so. Without the ability to generate property taxes, gross receipts, and lodgers tax revenues, your community will eventually lose the ability to fund the "necessities" and the game is over - you no longer need police and fire.
Support the arts - they fund your future!