Image courtesy of Highland Arts Council, Highland, IL. Photo by Brady Kesner. Image courtesy of Highland Arts Council, Highland, IL. Photo by Brady Kesner.
Support for Local Arts Agencies (LAAs) gets called into question on an all-too-frequent basis. Just recently, the Charlotte, NC city council voted to make the Arts and Sciences Council (ASC) of Charlotte ineligible to receive operating dollars to support the personnel, technology and other resources necessary to do its work for the broader cultural sector. Last year in Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney proposed a $1 million cut to funding for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, though funding levels were restored in the final budget after significant advocacy from local arts communities and their supporters. Do funding cuts have consequences for a community's arts vibrancy?
Those who work for local arts agencies witness the community impact of their work. Organizations and artists who are direct beneficiaries of local arts agency support leverage the funding to fuel their creative activity. Yet politicians and citizens who live in arts-vibrant communities may not connect the dots between their local arts agency and the direct value it adds. We decided to turn to data to empirically explore the question: Do local arts agencies contribute to their communities’ arts vibrancy?
As part of a project with Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, we undertook an effort to examine the effects of LAA funding on overall Arts Vibrancy and the individual, underlying components of Arts Vibrancy. Our colleagues at Americans for the Arts generously shared with us LAA data they collected through a survey so that we could explore the topic.
Our research pointed to multiple ways that LAAs are catalysts for art vibrancy in their communities. The more grant dollars they have to invest in artists and arts organizations, and the more programs and services they provide, the more their communities pulse with arts-driven creative and economic life, vigor, and activity.
Local Arts Agency (LAA) funding has a positive relationship with overall Arts Vibrancy in a community
Local Arts Agencies have impact on essential support for the arts workforce
Local Arts Agency support stimulates more artistic activity
Public funding sources play a key role in the overall arts ecology
The arts thrive in relationship with other leisure activities within a community
Director, SMU DataArts
“These findings provide evidence that if you want to increase your community’s level of arts vibrancy, support increased funding for your local arts agency. The investment will pay off.”