The Arts and Economic Growth

Every few weeks there’s a new story illustrating the correlation between investment in the arts and prosperity. This time, the story comes from Philadelphia.

According to Philly.com — which seems to be affiliated with the Philadelphia Inquirer — a new study revealed that cultural activity in the Philadelphia area supports 44,000 jobs and generates $170 million in state and local taxes. The article also mentions that the arts support tens of thousands of jobs in Houston and Washington D.C. as well.

Philadelphia’s “chief cultural officer” — a position more cities should consider creating — summed up the lesson of this information, which applies to cities everywhere:

“We need to be invested more in the sector,” he said, speaking of government dollars. “Investment in the culture sector is investment that’s returned back to citizens and back to the treasury.” It is, he said, “a real economic-development investment.”

These points reminded me of a recent economic development meeting I attended. During the meeting, a couple of consultants were trying to figure out what Provo could do to spur more economic growth. There are many possible strategies to accomplish that goal, but as Philadelphia — as well as several previous posts — demonstrate, the arts are one thing with a proven track record of success.

The Covey Center for the Arts in downtown.

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