Why do arts groups argue for more funds from governments and corporate sponsors by using their second-best argument for that money?
It goes like this: “The arts produce huge economic benefits: restaurants, hotels, neighbourhoods, even cities can create a Bilbao Effect, where one big attraction can transform an entire region. They also produce gobs of secondary jobs. So please give us your money.”
Until last year, the arts hardly ever used their main argument for support because they were asking for money from people who dealt in it, and because that argument was so hard to prove.
Then came the pandemic, and now it’s time for the arts to tell us why we really need them, to connect their work with our lives, not just by offering a drink before the show, but the show itself.
“I’m going to ask you now to try and imagine those past 13 months would have been like if you hadn’t been able to read a book, listen to music, look at a favourite painting, watch a livestream performance, or binge-watch a series on Netflix. I think we’ve all realized, in a new and very personal way, that the arts are an extraordinarily important source of mental health in dealing with the anxiety, the loneliness and the isolation caused by a collective threat like COVID-19.”
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