Politics & Media
Dec 18, 2008, 11:15AM

Obama and the arts

While there are very pressing matters for the President-elect to focus on, the progress of arts and culture should not fall by the wayside.

Here, here:

In addition to their intrinsic value - to express, inspire, console and delight - the arts have much to contribute to the nation's top priorities. Many studies document the economic impact of arts centers on their local economies. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, for instance, stimulates the entire region's economy to the tune of about $1.5 billion a year. An arts component to the federal recovery package could create good jobs - not just for artists but also for workers in construction, operations, hospitality and information technology.

The arts also can work hand in hand with national security. Targeted cultural diplomacy, such as tours of American performers abroad through the U.S. Agency for International Development, could help us win friends worldwide. National security know-how and funding can help shield cultural facilities at home from terrorist attacks.

Arts-friendly policies need not be expensive. The federal government could follow the example of enlightened states and municipalities that use dedicated revenue streams to fund cultural programs. Forty communities nationwide dedicate a portion of hotel/motel taxes to arts and cultural programs, acknowledging that cultural activity attracts tourism. Florida dedicates a portion of its budget from corporate filing fees to the state's Cultural Affairs Division. California dedicates the extra revenue collected for arts-related specialty license plates. Alabama provides for voluntary contributions to the arts through an income tax checkoff.


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