The arts have intrinsic value. If you don’t believe that, I have an economic impact study to show you.

"Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others." Groucho Marx

In last week’s blog I relayed the story of attending a presentation by Randy Cohen of Americans for the Arts in Amsterdam and how it got me thinking about economic impact studies and arguments.  (Thanks to all who posted comments.)  In response to Cohen’s assertions that economic impact arguments are the only ones that seem to work with most politicians in the US these days, Arjo Klamer (the Chair of Cultural Economics at Erasmus University) raised his hand and said (and I’m paraphrasing from memory):  Economic impact arguments are the only ones that work because they are the arguments you have been making.  I would encourage you to work on strengthening your arguments for the cultural and social values of the arts

Cohen responded saying that, of course, Americans for the Arts also makes intrinsic value arguments with the audiences for whom such arguments work (which is, evidently, not politicians).  At one point, he made the analogy of a bow and a bag of arrows and recommended using whichever arrow (argument) will get the job done in a given situation. 

Practically speaking, I get the “use the arrow that works” analogy.  In point of fact, I was on a working group at a Salzburg Seminar this past February, Session 468—The Performing Arts in Lean Times, whose task was to discuss how to make more effective arguments for the arts.  (BTW, you can access the full report on Salzburg Session 468 here.)  Our working group concluded something similar:  there is no silver bullet argument; thus, make the argument that works in a given situation. 

However, I’ve recently been thinking about the relationship between the practical and the principled response and pondering whether practical and principled arguments can, indeed, live side-by-side in the same arrow bag and be used as suits the situation, or whether, over time, practical arguments undermine the efficacy of principled arguments? 

More to the point, if (for practical reasons) I make the case to a politician (who only wants to hear about the numbers) that the arts should be supported primarily because they create jobs for arts administrators, waiters, and babysitters, or because they bring tourist dollars to the city, have I not, in essence, forsaken the principle that the arts have inherent value and should be supported for that value? 

Photo of Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx is unattributed and in the public domain, and available at the Wikimedia Commons/Wikipedia.

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Comments

  1. michael rohd says

    I agree. i agree. i agree.
    The challenge with the bag of arrows is indeed that it gives up value not based solidly in the market. And since so much of the arts sector is based in the not-for-profit model (at least at this moment), which has to function in that same market, it not only shores up a consistent set of confusions related to why we need the not-for-profit status (if you generate so much economic impact, why should you be supported like charity?), it also muddles the value of creativity as a practice inherent to healthy community and necessary for a consistent level of civic discourse rooted in collaboration, not competition….values we are failing at nurturing in our nation , in this current moment.

    • Tim DuRoche says

      I agree with your agreeing, Michael… and applaud DR for looking for a more broad-based public value argument. WWJDD (What would John Dewey do?)

  2. Tommer Peterson says

    “….have I not, in essence, forsaken the principle that the arts have inherent value and should be supported for that value? ”

    Not unless you choose to. These are not necessarily polarized principles. I’d rather assume that choosing to wield the economic impact at a given moment is a combination of good judgment that this argument is what will be effective to that audience, but more importantly it is a choice that is motivated by one’s own belief in the value of the arts. Ever the optimist, I also assume that we are also educating those that only wan to hear the numbers along the way. On the other hand, we also need to be practical, and deal with the political and economic realities we face.

    Switching topics….hope Sinterklaas was good to you!

    • Scarlett Swerdlow says

      I’m with, Tommer. It’s not an either / or, it’s a both / and.

      When we at Arts Alliance Illinois do trainings to prepare people for engaging decision-makers, we remind them it’s all about relationship-building (just like everything else we do). Part of making friends in government is understanding the needs, responsibilities, and priorities of the decision-maker. Right now, any elected official will tell you that his priority is jobs, jobs, jobs. Knowing that, I think we must make factual arguments about how the arts create and sustain jobs. Otherwise, we stand no chance. That is a fact of life right now.

      Last year in Washington, DC for National Arts Advocacy Day, I saw the ears of numerous staffers perk up as soon as we pulled out the Creative Industries report for their district showing the number of arts businesses (everything from museums and orchestras to architecture firms and film enterprises) and the jobs they support in that member’s district. It’s not only persuasive for folks on the fence, but it emboldens those on board to speak out because now they have relevant and timely facts.

      All that said, another aspect to relationship-building is creating champions. Lawmakers who show support for the arts and arts education need to be groomed into full-on champions for our cause. Those are the folks we should start to educate about the intrinsic value of visual, performing, literary, and media arts.

      Economic impact isn’t my favorite way to make the case (and it’s not why I got involved in arts advocacy), but my experience engaging lawmakers reinforces to me that it’s an essential instrument in our toolbox.

      Scarlett Swerdlow
      Arts Alliance Illinois

  3. John Washington says

    Virtually everyone will concede that “the arts” have virtue. In most communities the argument is not economic impact (studies of which seem to be inherently self-serving) but what are the objective cultural deliverables, how do you measure them, and what do they cost? “Value” should be the defining variable; deliverables divided by cost.

    In our community (Scottsdale AZ), the anointed culturists have for decades received a steady, generous, unearned stipend from the taxpayers. It is a natural result that quality and quantity of programming have declined, audiences have shrunk, ticket sales have declined, and administrative costs have risen in a spiraling imbalance of dysfunction. The anointed will soon be left entertaining and culturing only themselves, at the expense of everyone else.

  4. says

    My feeling is that you have to make the two arguments together. Whether for profit or not-for-profit organizations of culture are a business. There are certain business and economic principles that are shared in common. Yes, demonstrating that an organization of culture returns a tangible economic impact to the community can and should be made, but at the same time organizations of culture need to make the case that the arts contribute to the cultural vibrancy of a community. That vibrancy manifests itself in educational outreach, community outreach, and the artistic impact and relevance of their particular artistic product on the community. Just giving the economic impact isn’t enough nor is the cultural vibrancy argument enough. They are both intertwined and together enrich a community.

  5. Colleen Thornton says

    I would extend the logic of the economic argument to its obvious conclusion: the intrinsic value of art is the underlying basis of economic success because people WANT art in their lives and are willing to pay for it. This desire is intrinsic to the human condition, and leads to the individual’s and community’s investment in culture. This constant, time-proven practice of engaging in and supporting the arts is self-evident, and exists consistantly with and without government support. Also the US tax-code (501-C0-3) requires that serving the public good be central to the mission of any organization seeking exemption from corporate income taxes. Therefore, the government has already accepted the intrinsic social value of the arts, and supports that necessary intrinsic value with tax exemptions to both the organization and its patrons. (BUT, it also prohibits political activity, which can be seen as a form of creative/artistic censorship in exhange for the tax break.) “Not-for-profit” does not imply NO profit, rather it identifies the motive for the organization’s existance. A ‘profit’ is indeed allowed but must always be reinvested in the organization and its mission. It’s high time for artists to accept the responsibility for properly managing their professions, becoming as smart about economics, policy and social leadership as other professions. The tax-exempt structure is misunderstood in both practice and principle, and the idea that culture is a “charity” is a myth that can easily be de-bunked with hard economic data. Poor self-image is another story.

  6. Joan says

    Managers are always forgetting the work of art itself. In a practical sense, there are only two arrows: that one shot by the actual ARTWORK via the artists working on it, and that one shot by the manager/money people trying to raise dollars on behalf of the artists, to allow them to do their best for the artwork.

    But if the performance or work of art has so lost touch with its community that it no longer reaches hearts and minds and needs, then the arts manager’s role tends to blur over into the WORK’s role as they try to persuade people of the art’s value, to touch hearts and minds. But that’s the purpose, the built in essence of art -to create or express value, especially value which is hidden and not already socially “out there” or conscious.

    As far as this love affair with technology goes – the Internet doesn’t deliver art any more than paper delivers stories. From the way arts managers go on, you’d think that film, ink and presses wrote their own novels, symphonies, paintings, dance, movies…. or that some new art had been discovered.

    Part of the kids’ gulping lunging dive into computer technology is because THEY THEMSELVES CAN CREATE again, as they once could as children, in the dirt, on paper, running, imagining, playing, singing. And why haven’t they been doing these arts all along in our factory schools? The heart breaks to imagine what we all could be doing, and how we’ve broken the human spirit on behalf of money making especially in North America. Don’t artists themselves many who live near poverty (I don’t refer to entertainment “stars”) prove to all of us how little we really need? And WHAT we all really need, which is to create and meet creatively?

    For God’s sake, this making visible that which was once invisible is the evidence of the presence of the homo sapiens species on earth, It’s over 65,000 years old. Art comes from the human heart and body and goes to a human heart and body, individually and /or collectively. It doesn’t *matter* what the tools are but it matters that the tools remain tools and not drugs to make society unconscious. Entertainment is something else. Our subject here are the arts…..agreed?

    Email, digital Internet programs like You Tube are really about information, not art, and that is how most kids use it-to let them know quickly what’s “out there” so they can make the purchases they want, or go to hear the very few big shows that they (and most of us) can afford to pay for and travel to. We view opera on movie theatre screens not because we have created a new artform, but for the same reason we have coffee table art books. Who can afford to travel and see the giant genius works of humanity – the pyramids, Haga Sophia, Chartres, the Wailing Wall, Guernica, Monet’s Waterlilies, the Berlin Phil, Romeo and Juliet in Stratford, Ontario by star performers, and on and on? Technology – unless it is in the hands of a living person in front of you, like a violin or a scrim- is a tool to deliver information about an artform that exists most intimately in some place. No one really confuses sitting in a lumpy bedroom chair in front of a tiny flat screen beside a peanut butter sandwich balanced precariously nearby with any of the above….do they?

  7. says

    To my mind, there’s a false either-or choice in your post. You can make an economic argument (or another “practical” argument) while, at the same time, educating someone about benefits and impacts that they might not think very much about. That way, it can be a short and long-term win.

  8. Rachel Ciprotti says

    Interesting thoughts here.

    I support the idea of always making both types of arguments, though you can emphasize one more than the other. It’s important never to lose site of the principled reasoning for the arts, as well as the practical.

    (I would like to say to commenter Mr. Rohd that economic impact is not the same thing as profit. Ex: a museum attracts visitors to local restaurants and it also pays large amounts to a local framer – these boost the local economy without profiting the museum.)

  9. says

    I am of the view that the reason why some people only respond to economic impact arguments is because they think (and maybe the person making the argument thinks) that only economic impacts are quantifiable.

    But Alan Brown (of Wolf/Brown) has demonstrated with his Values and Benefit study that we _can_ measure the intrinsic benefits of artistic experiences. “If we can describe it, we can measure it.”

    So the principle can be proven, not just proof-of-concept stories (which we use), but with hard numbers.

    …Or are politicians inherently against principles, even if practical performance can be quantified?

  10. Nick Rabkin says

    Instrumental arguments are, allegedly, more suited to resistant polcymakers who just don’t ‘get’ the intrinsic value of the arts, or feel that they need some ‘cover’ to make pro-arts policy in a hostile environment. Twenty years ago, when the economic arguments were first developed, there was good reason to hope they might work. But we’ve had a couple of decades of experience with advocacy based on instrumental arguments. Have they reframed the public debate about the arts? Have they resulted in… good results? The only reasonable conclusion is that the economic arguments are not as pragmatic as we hoped. Even an arts-friendly Democratic administration that had recently made the arts a campaign issue was pretty darn stingy when it came time to allocate dollars to the arts in the stimulus.

    Does this mean that intrinsic ‘arguments’ are any more likely to work? Nope. By their nature, all ‘arguments’ are pragmatic. You can’t ‘argue’ for something that is that is woven into the very nature of the arts. Those elements can’t be isolated and objectively examined. They need to be experienced; they can’t be argued. In the end, this isn’t a debate about instrumental and intrinsic cases for the value of the arts. The intrinsic case is not an argument, it is an experience. The reason we find ourselves making instrumental cases for the arts is simple: too few people have those ‘intrinsic’ experiences. Who is responsible for that?

    • says

      Excellent points, Nick and thanks so much for posting! I’m a fan of your work. To your point about too few people having the “intrinsic experience” – I agree with you and would wager that if arts participation rates were increasing we wouldn’t have to work so hard to persuade people of our value (intrinsic or otherwise) as it would be (presumably, a little more) self evident. We may also need to acknowledge (i.e., adapt or accept the consequences of not adapting to) the inconvenient truth that many people are (and have been for awhile now) getting the “intrinsice value” we associate with “nonprofit fine art” in other activities. If the nonprofit arts are not “uniquely valuable,” it makes it harder for us to argue for special subsidies for doing what we do.

  11. says

    We tend to conflate two processes that really are quite separate. The first is the process of education — convincing people that the arts have intrinsic value and are worthy of support for their own sake. This is a continual process.

    The second is the process of advocating for funding and support. This is a periodic process, and we should use whichever truthful argument is most likely to resonate with each particular audience. In many cases, this is, and will always be, the economic argument, but the more effective we are with process #1, the more likely we are to see more people supporting ars gratia artis.

    …And the more successful we are in reaching those people who respond only to the economic argument, the more funding we’ll have and the more progress we’ll be able to make with the educational campaign.

  12. Vicci U. Johnson says

    As a former music educator in the St. Paul Public Schools, colleagues submitted every study available, to show administration how to integrate Kodaly vocal music into the core curriculum, pre-K through grade 6, specifically to raise inner-city reading and math scores and close the achievement gap. Still, no one considered the research, and this apathy continues today in every large city in the US.
    The only argument public politicians MAY consider is the cities arts tourism economy. I say MAY, because I believe there is a segment of the conservative right who wants to eliminate the middle class, who wants as few college educated workers as possible; when struggling to survive, citizens don’t have time to study the issues, nor can they make an educated judgement to vote appropriately. As free-will is marketed as a trait of Democracy, educators understand that free-will is constrained by the amount of knowledge one has. Immersion in the arts is associated with an educated community-society.
    The downsizing of the arts is being supported by very powerful and rich conservatives.
    To best understand this, read the first chapter of The Manufactured Crisis, by Biddle and Berliner, 1995. The message is still strong and the plan is still in place.
    To reinstate the arts in K-12 classrooms, which would close the achievement gap, and by extension, sustain arts tourism in our cities, would take massive amounts of private and public funding. I don’t view this as happening. With Capitalism running amuck, and policy and laws in place to sustain it, people are just too greedy.
    V. Johnson; BSMusic Ed; MAArts Admin: MAEducation

  13. says

    Currently, WolfBrown, who was referenced in one of the comments earlier, is being commissioned by Theatre Bay Area to do a year-long study into the intrinsic impact of theatre on individuals–and, in part, to make that work, which is currently prohibitively expensive, much easier to access and understand. As the project manager for the study, and the associated other activities that we’re doing around the impact of art beyond economics, I’m discovering that, from the artistic/company side, investigating the intrinsic impact of theatre can be a sticky issue. There can be reticence from staffers (both artistic and non-artistic) about evaluating the core artistic product in a way that can generate numbers and graphs, and balking at the idea of this work eventually being used to demonstrate relative values of different work from different companies to funders, government agencies and audiences. But it seems to me that such evaluation is vital to our continued arguments for the value of what we do, and to the requests for money, time and energy that we seek out in so many ways.

    Diane, in your Surviving the Culture Change speech you discuss the relative value of art and question whether Bach is better than Bjork is better than your brother playing the banjo (yes, I memorized it, and I’m okay with that). I’d argue that, while it’s possible impact assessment could get some ways to that, what it’s actually more likely to do is to demonstrate that for most (though not all) art, there is an impact, and that those impacts can be as varied as the art itself. The argument isn’t really whether Bach is better than Bjork, it’s how Bach is impactful, and how Bjork is impactful, and whether those impacts are as strong and meaningful to the audience members who experience them as we think they are. Every artist and arts institution believes in the value of their work. We’re hoping that this new tool (and really the goal of all of this is to build a new, easy to use survey tool that makes impact assessment as easy as basic satisfaction assessment) will allow your brother, should he want to, to ask his audience what type of impact he’s making, and to, if he wants to, tell a funder that he’s doing good work and deserves recognition and possibly support.

    In the surveying of audiences that we’re currently doing, one of the stated goals of the project is what Jeffrey Salzburg mentions above, the education of an audience in the impact of art–creating what Alan Brown has taken to calling a permanent feedback loop with your audience–setting out goals for the impact of the artistic product (which of course vary from product to product), measuring the audience’s response in relation to those goals, allowing them to engage with questions that make them think about the value of the art beyond simply “I liked/didn’t like it,” and then gauging why there are differences in the initial goals of the project and the final outcomes.

    At Theatre Bay Area, we spend a lot of time advocating for the arts, and the legislators we talk to aren’t terribly interested in the economics anymore (though it still, of course (of course!) has a very valuable place in the discussion). They want anecdotes of value, people whose lives were changed, and then they want to understand how far-reaching that change is.

    You can find out more at http://www.theatrebayarea.org/intrinsicimpact, and you can read a ARTSblog entry on the subject here: http://blog.artsusa.org/2010/10/06/proving-what-we-know-is-true/.

    Thanks Diane, great conversation!

    • says

      Clay, thanks for the post. Great comments.

      I’m so glad you mentioned the intrinsic impacts work you are doing with Alan Brown. [I referenced his study with the Major University Presenters in a comment last week, and Laura Sweet has provided a link to that work in her comment this week.] Alan is doing excellent and important work and Theatre Bay Area’s efforts to extend the research and enable more nonprofits to utilize the resource is commendable. I believe these are exactly the sorts of new metrics that we need.

      Your point about nonprofits resisting the “measurement” of intrinsic impacts does not surprise me as this has long been a sticking point between arts organizations and those that seek to understand them. The fact of the matter is that the tax status and benefits that 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organizations receive are justified on the grounds that what they provide is somehow uniquely valuable and differentiated from for-profit firms. It’s a shame that so few funders and government agencies these days seem to understand that distinctive value. In an ideal world, they would. Given this situation, it seems it would be in the best interest of nonprofits to cooperate with those seeking to understand and assess that value (let’s assume via a valid method).

      In his worthwhile essay in the Michael Hutter and David Throsby book, BEYOND PRICE – Bruno Price says that “arts people take artistic value as a given. They see no need to establish that it contributes to human welfare.” He concludes that if arts organizations want public subsidies then they need to allow for the accounting of the public’s perceptions of the value of art.

      Thanks for the post, Clay, and to all who have contributed to this conversation. I sincerely value the comments.

  14. says

    Leaders of ArtsWave in Cincinnati asked the question that is implicit in the description of the exchange between Randy Cohen and Arjo Klamer described in your blog post: How do we talk about the arts in a way that is designed to build broad public support?

    If we want elected officials to prioritize arts funding, they have to believe that the public broadly supports the arts. And right now they don’t feel that — and moreover, nearly every time officials propose even a small amount of funding for the arts, they are criticized and opponents use arts funding proposals as a means to undermine larger goals. (For example, the small amount of funding targeted to the National Endowment for the Arts in the President’s stimulus bill was highlighted and used as a way to undermine the entire bill by its opponents.) Of course, with significant investment of human resources, we are sometimes able to overcome this opposition with many one-on-one conversations, using chits with our major donors who have access and influence with elected officials. And in these situations, the economic impact argument can be helpful. Americans for the Arts did amazing work on the stimulus bill using this approach.

    But, this means of winning legislative battles isn’t really working well for us. It’s too labor intensive; we keep having the same fight again and again. We’ve used the same value proposition for years — offering new ways to make the case with a new research study or a new slant (creative class, for example). Yet offering new data about economic or educational impact, or hoping that saying it louder with a front-page story in a national paper, hasn’t changed the way politicians — or citizens — feel about the value of the arts as a public good.

    In Cincinnati, we embarked on a research initiative designed to develop an inclusive community dialogue leading to broadly shared public responsibility for arts and culture in the region.

    We learned a lot about what people value in the arts. We also identified some traps.

    As for the value of investing in the arts as an economic driver — we learned that the arts just don’t compete well on that field. We get beat by more compelling ideas about how to bolster an economy. When we talk about the return on investment from the arts, someone always wonders about the benefits of making the same investment in another field. When we talk about how many creative jobs there are, people wonder how many jobs there are in other sectors — health care, legal, etc.

    After a year of investigation into the topic, this research finds that public responsibility for the arts is undermined by deeply entrenched perceptions that have nothing to do with government and everything to do with understanding of the arts. Members of the public typically have positive feelings toward the arts, some quite strong, but how they think about the arts is shaped by a number of common default patterns that obscure a sense of public responsibility in this area.

    For example, it is natural and common for people who are not insiders to think of the arts in terms of entertainment. Problematically, entertainment is a matter of personal taste, not public responsibility, and is an extra not a necessity.

    Furthermore, art-as-entertainment is difficult to distinguish from other forms of entertainment, such as professional sports or reality television.

    Underlying what people say are several assumptions that work against the objective of positioning the arts as a public good:

    The arts are a private matter: Arts are about individual tastes, experiences and enrichment, and individual expression by artists.

    The arts are a good to be purchased: Therefore, most assume that the arts should succeed or fail, as any product does in the marketplace, based on what people want to purchase.

    People expect to be passive, not active: People expect to have a mostly passive, consumer relationship with the arts. The arts will be offered to them, and therefore do not need to be created or supported by them.

    The arts are a low priority: Even when people value art, it is rarely high on their list of priorities.

    The end result of these patterns – most of which are probably not unique to Cincinnati – is that it becomes easy to see government aid, for instance, as frivolous or inappropriate. Even charitable giving can be undermined by these default perceptions.

    We all know the existing landscape of public understanding is not conducive to a sense of broadly shared responsibility for the arts. To achieve that objective, we need to change the landscape by employing a message strategy that positions arts and culture as a public good – a communal interest in which all have a stake. (We had additional criteria for our work, but for the purpose of this posting, the public good requirement is most important.)

    Holding typical arts messages up to this standard clarifies why some messages, even emotionally powerful messages, fail to inspire a sense of collective responsibility. Art as a transcendent experience, important to well-being, a universal human need, etc., all speak to private, individual concerns, not public, communal concerns. While many people like these messages, the messages do not help them think of art as a public good for which we are all responsible.

    We did this research because we need a new way to engage citizens and politicians in the value of the arts. Elected officials need to have public will supporting them and the political space to take action on behalf of the arts. When that happens, time spent meeting with elected officials will be much more fruitful.

    Our research finds that people understand and value leaders who invest in the arts because of the ripple effects of benefits from the arts. We learned that the following two ripple effects are especially helpful and compelling to enumerate:
    • A vibrant, thriving economy: Neighborhoods are more lively, communities are revitalized, tourists and residents are attracted to the area, etc. Note that this goes well beyond the usual dollars-and-cents argument.
    • A more connected population: Diverse groups share common experiences, hear new perspectives, understand each other better, etc.

    We’ve been using these findings in our work for about a year and we’ve had real success in changing the conversation. Yet, we know it will take years to see change reflected in action and in public debates.

    You can read the full report and see other reactions to our research on our website at: http://www.theartswave.org/about/research-reports

  15. Victoria Hutter says

    Enjoying the conversation here. The last post especially reminded me of Bill Ivey’s work in promoting the value of an expressive life. The argument (here’s a link to his conversation at Demos http://www.vanderbilt.edu/curbcenter/2009/07/expressive-life-and-the-public-interest/ ) touches on both the individual and communal benefits of the arts and I think is a good way to begin building a strong argument for the participation in and public support of the arts.

  16. says

    Wonderful discussion. Much has been covered, just a couple points to add: if anyone doesn’t know Lewis Hyde’s notion of the “gift economy” (in his classic, “The Gift”) I believe it gets to some of the fundamental issues underlying art in our society. Also check out Ben Cameron’s recent Ted talk on the Increased participation he sees in performing arts. Too add my $.02, the very fact that we spend so much time and energy arguing or making the case for the value — be it intrinsic, economic, medical or dietary — of art says so much about the U. S. Imagine what the far-future anthropologist or historian would make of this discussion. The historian Manning Marable says (paraphrasing) to have a shared future we have to understand our common past. In that light, might it not be helpful to understand more deeply how the devaluation of art in our society came to be? If Ben Cameron’s hunch is correct and– as a previous post also suggests — new media/technology is leading to a re-democratization of art-making, how can we support and grow this development as — could it be? — a creative, grassroots, trickle-up re-ordering of public policy?

  17. Clayton Lord says

    To Corey’s point, I do often wonder if we’ll ever get to the point where we don’t have to make such a strong, constant argument for the value of the art we make. But as one of the executive directors participating in our study pointed out, “As artists and arts administrators, we’ve turned ourselves into bean counters becase the people we deal with, what they count is beans.” I’m all for a bottom-up re-valuation of art, and I hope that some of the efforts we as arts administrators are making in the field now will bear fruit years (decades?) from now, but the truth of the matter is that much of the world outside our sector (and, honestly, within it) evaluates all things (including esoteric things like art) the same way they evaluate currency fluctuations, GDP and population dynamics – with graphs, numbers, and easy-to-blurb trending lines. We need to create the bridge between that type of stuff and the core stories that we think/know really demonstrate our value, and we need to get to the point where we’re all singing from the same (or at least similar) songbooks–in part so that we can at least crack the door on the legitimacy of that indefinable thing at the heart of good art.

    If you haven’t yet read it, I highly recommend reading Simon Brault’s “No Culture, No Future.” It’s as comprehensive an argument as I’ve seen anywhere for a holistic approach to art valuation–he spends equal time talking about the economics and the intrinsic benefits, and ultimately discusses how one can’t really work without the other. He says, in part, “The arts and culture …first and foremost are fundamental attributes of human beings. Culture constitutes a dimension of life that precedes and surpasses sectoral and economic concerns. By ignoring this consideration…we are de facto reducing the discussion of culture to essentially financial and commercial concerns.”

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