Marion Palace Theatre

The Merit of the Arts – May 2018

The Merit of the Arts – May 2018

The Merit of the Arts

I often extol the merit of the arts. It’s easy to do. I see the benefits first hand every day. I am the happy recipient of the stories created for those who participate. Chances are most of you don’t have the same vantage point as I do, and perhaps that leaves the merit of the arts up for debate in your minds.

I hope to help settle the debate for you, if there is one.

In an article I was recently reading, the author made the point that the value of subjects like science, technology, math, and even sports is rarely in question. No need to question the worth of subjects with tangible or measurable results, right? The proof is in the numbers – test scores or wins and losses. We applaud things like the mastermind behind the latest, greatest app or the 3 pointer made at the buzzer to win the game. And, rightfully so. There is data to quantify the value of such studies and activities.

But many see involvement in the arts as optional. Expendable. Maybe even irrelevant. Why?

Is it that we, as a culture, haven’t seen numbers to verify the value and the outcomes of involvement in the arts? Often arts related outcomes are viewed as intangible versus the very tangible things I mentioned above.

How do we measure things like building confidence, conquering the fear of public speaking, collaboration and team-building, the art of memorization, the discipline of time management, or the celebration of our differences because cumulatively there is more talent at the table when we accept each other for the unique people we are. These may not be measurable in the same manner but these are the results of participation in the arts.

According to the numbers (Salient Studies on the Arts in Education), involvement in the arts makes students more proficient in their other studies. Involvement improves literacy, achievement, attendance, test scores, and graduation rates. But it’s not just for kids.

Further study results reveal participation in the arts provides a platform to learn from mistakes, to develop creativity, to be critical thinkers. The arts improve attention, provide motivation, and strengthen communities. What employer doesn’t value these attributes in an employee?

The same study also notes that the arts pay dividends. This is the quantifiable aspect of the arts and something we should talk more about.

Data reported by Americans for the Arts president and CEO Robert Lynch informs us that the arts and culture industry in America is a $730 billion industry. Yes, with a B. It is responsible for “4.2 percent of the annual GDP, supports 4.8 million jobs, and yields a $26 billion trade surplus for our country.”

Now those are impressive statistics. And right here at home, the Palace Theatre’s contribution is measurable in tourism and economic development. Beyond that, the arts add to the quality of life a community has to offer its residents and also help create an exciting environment for those looking for a great place to relocate their family or their business.

As we invite you to support the Palace Theatre during this special 90th anniversary year membership drive, my hope is that you, too, will celebrate and support the work of the arts at the Palace by making your best donation. By doing so, you ensure more great outcomes for you, for the Palace, and for our community and this region at large.

Thank you in advance!