Thursday, February 17, 2005

Art and the Bottom Line

The Rand Corp. has come out with a study this week arguing that arts institutions don't necessarily benefit from a bottom-line, economic approach (contra the CATO free market fanatics):

After wading through stacks of economic and educational studies used to drum up arts funding, Rand Corp. researchers say the numbers don't make a persuasive case and that arts advocates should emphasize intrinsic benefits that make people cherish the arts.

The Rand report, "Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate About the Benefits of the Arts," issued Tuesday, says that trumpeting the most quantifiable and utilitarian benefits doesn't address the biggest long-term challenge facing arts organizations: cultivating an arts-savvy public that wants what museums and performing groups offer.

To that end, Rand proposes that advocates become less fixated on what the arts can do for business growth and kids' math and reading scores, and instead stress intangibles such as enchantment, enlightenment and community-building.

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