Here is an excellent piece on a case for taxpayer support of the arts.
A prevailing viewpoint is that public funds should be dedicated primarily to costs related to the maintenance and improvement of a region’s infrastructure – roads, bridges, waste management, emergency services and the like – and secondarily to attracting or retaining businesses, jobs, people, and generating new external funding. Within that view, how does support of the arts contribute?First, while the arts are ‘not-for-profit,’ they are not revenue-neutral. They are revenue-positive in the same way any (most) for-profit businesses are: They generate paychecks, purchase supplies and materials and services from other businesses, and like any sports venue, they generate revenue for many other adjacent businesses, like restaurants, bars, and parking lots. When they work together. . . the economic impact on ALL the businesses in each respective region is positive. Their activity, week in and week out, means revenue for businesses that could not have generated it otherwise, and they have expanded with it, and they have come to count heavily on it.Finally, the arts are not, and should never be, limited to artists and ‘arts lovers.’ Creativity exists in everything that people do. It takes huge amounts of imagination and critical thinking to run a business (I grew up in a family business), or to create and manage a manufacturing process, or design a new widget, or promote different living environments. Art and creative thought is sought and appreciated by people who must turn thinking into action, and action into profit. The creative thinker – Steve Jobs, for example, and a thousand others like him – is the one who succeeds where others don’t, who expand when others stay static, and who drive change toward the new, and the untried, and the next best thing – or the next best place. And the key — perhaps the only — place where creativity, business, art, education, youth, and experience come together is the public library.