The arts thrive best with broad public support, but for that to happen people have to see the arts as a public good – as more than just individual expressions and performances to be consumed. The problem is that earlier narratives, which placed special value on art as a mark of civilization and cultural development have fallen away, and so people wonder why their tax dollars are being spent on it.
When advocates draw people’s attention to the way in which the effects of the arts ripple throughout a community – making places more vibrant, more attractive, and more economically and socially vigorous – average people can see why the arts are an important common good and a shared responsibility. A new narrative takes the place of the old, and a new generation can be brought in.
These Topos findings are being widely shared among advocates for the arts in communities around the country.