When it comes to economic growth you will hear plenty of buzzwords: entrepreneurs, startups, ecosystems, hub, strategic location, innovation…well you get the picture.
One word that very rarely gets a mention is “art.”
The arts are vital to sustained economic development in a community. Why? Ability, Creativity, and Livability.
Not everyone is cut out to be a successful entrepreneur or startup team member. Some people were just born to be artists. They live to focus their talents on the arts. We’ve all met the artist who would be an absolute failure in a nine to five office job but place here in a sculpture studio or put a paint brush in her hands and she comes alive and creates art that enriches the world. Communities that are investing in the arts are ensuring that every single person in their community has a place to contribute their time and talents.
Innovation or creating new products, technologies, and intellectual property, comes from a place of creativity. The more creative outlets that are available to a community, the more they being to flex their creativity. Actively participating in the creative process creates new neural pathways that can be used to develop innovation that may otherwise never see the light of day. A focus on the arts gives communities an edge over those that are only interested in skillset development like coding or engineering.
Who wants to live in a community devoid of art? The arts make communities infinitely more livable. They create beauty in public spaces. They create stirring musical and dance events. They can even create a sense of pride in the people of a community. One of the secrets to sustained economic development is not just a busy community with more money, but one that is ultimately a joy to live in as well.
Art exists in the world because humans have a natural desire to create. When we devalue the arts in terms of the role they play in economic development, we are devaluing a significant portion of the human experience and at the end of the day, what’s the point in making everyone rich if they are culturally devoid?