Written by: Betty-Anne Howard
“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them...Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due” Winston Churchill 1938
When I think about all the ways in which music, books, dance, theatre and art, have inspired and entertained me, taken me out of my life and given me something magical I receive the answer to my question of why I and so many other people support the arts.
When I was young, growing up with my parents who had very little disposable income, certainly no money to attend live theatre, movies, concerts, unless they were free which rarely happened back in the 60’s. Thus I was delighted when my Uncle would come to our place, guitar and kids in hand because that meant we’d be singing and dancing and best of all, having some fun. To this day whenever I hear country and western music I experience many different emotions including joy and sadness. Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash stir many emotions inside me that go very deep.
I am also stirred when I hear a symphony, even though I wasn’t exposed to classical music until I was in my 20’s.
The Thousand Islands Playhouse has been a favourite spot of mine for many years, including when I was attending Queens University, back in the 70’s.
My very first experience of the theatre was back when I was fourteen years old, I saw Anne of Green Gables and that was in Prince Edward Island, I wrote about that experience in my blog (please insert link to that blog here)
There’s something about live theatre, live performances that make being in that moment quite memorable.
In addition to the arts providing us with entertainment, thought provoking and emotional awakenings, there’s an economic benefit to our communities. The Arts according to a study by Hill Strategies Research from August of 2016, a vibrant culture attracts top talent to that community. Among skilled workers, “65% of survey respondents were in agreement that ‘a thriving arts cultural scene is something I would look for when considering moving to a new community’”
Further afield I came across a study from Australia in 2014 that employed a cost-benefit analysis attempting to provide “ a valuation of the economic, social and cultural contribution” of live music in Australia that purports “for every dollar spent on live music in Australia, $3 worth of benefits are returned to the wider Australian community.”
Back to Ontario, another 2016 study looking at the economic impact of live music in this province clearly supports the notion that there are many economic benefits to supporting the arts.
“The global economy has changed enormously...the countries that will remain prosperous are the ones that take up the torch of being creative” Todd Hirsch, ATB Financial in What’s Your Story? A video by Culture Days.