Talking Points

It's no secret the arts are good for the soul. The arts are also good for our communities, schools, and economy. Below are talking points to help you answer these questions:

What do you mean by the arts?
Do the arts help the economy?
What impact do the arts have on schools and learning?
How do the arts help my community?
Why should government support the arts?

Advocacy resources

What do you mean by the arts?

The arts are a sector made up of:

  • Nonprofit organizations like museums, theatres, dance troopes, and symphonies
  • Commercial industries like architecture, design, fashion, and television and film
  • Unincorporated activities like community orchestras and choirs
  • Support systems like local arts agencies, service groups, and professional associations

Do the arts help the economy?

In Illinois, there are nearly 34,000 creative enterprises -- both nonprofit and commercial -- that employ over 140,000 people. These enterprises are essential to the state's economy: they put people to work, buy from local businesses, generate government revenue, and are a cornerstone of tourism and economic development. (Creative Industries: Business and Employment in the Arts, Americans for the Arts)

In Chicago, the nonprofit arts alone are a $2.2 billion industry that supports over 60,000 full-time-equivalent jobs, generates a total of $1.3 billion in household income to local residents, and delivers more than $200 million in local and state government revenue. (Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, Arts Alliance Illinois and Americans for the Arts)

The arts attract tourists to Illinois. There are over 100 million Americans who include the arts along with historic sites, cultural events, and ethnic festivals in their trips each year. (The Historic / Cultural Traveler, The Travel Industry Association of America via the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies)

In Chicago, cultural tourists tend to stay longer and spend two-and-a-half times more money in relation to arts and cultural events than Chicago residents. (Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, Arts Alliance Illinois and Americans for the Arts)

The arts are a magnet for talent and investments. They attract companies that want to offer their employees and clients a creative climate and a vibrant, livable community.

What impact do the arts have on schools and learning?

The arts are essential to the education of our students. Participation in the arts correlates to academic success in other subjects like math, science, and reading and better performance on standardized tests such at the SAT. (Champions of Change: The Impact of Arts on Learning, Arts Education Partnership)

The arts prepare students to succeed in an economy driven by knowledge and ideas. They provide the 4 Cs -- critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity -- that are essential to a 21st century workforce. Arts programs decrease drop-out rates and encourage students to stay in school. Youth who participate in the arts are much more likely to be high academic achievers and excel in extracurricular activities. (Involvement in the Arts and Success in Secondary School, Americans for the Arts)

92 percent of superintendents and 94 percent of principals in Illinois agree that the arts are an essential part of a well-rounded, quality education. Despite this, 1 in 5 schools report no arts programming in visual arts, theatre, music, or dance. (Arts at the Core: Every School, Every Student, Arts Alliance Illinois)

How do the arts help my community?

The arts contribute to community vitality. Citizen engagement in the arts creates a strong shared identity and instills pride in the community.

The arts bring public spaces to life. Works of art and cultural activities make public spaces more livable, attractive, and distinctive, engaging residents in the creation of sustainable places to live, work, play, and raise families.

The arts promote cross-cultural understanding. The arts build bridges among people. They provide a shared experience and lexicon for fostering relationships in an increasingly diverse and global society.

Why should government support the arts?

In tough times, the arts are part of the solution. Creative enterprises employ accountants, engineers, and union workers in addition to performers, curators, and other artists. They buy from local businesses, generate government revenue, and make communities better places to live, work, play, and raise families.

Incorporating the arts into sustainability initiatives -- like housing, transportation, health, parks and open spaces, and schools -- improves the impact of these other state policies and services. The arts sector brings unique assets to the table like the ability to connect people across economic, cultural, and geographic lines and experience engaging the community in meaningful ways.

Fully funding the Illinois Arts Council Agency would ensure everyone, everywhere in Illinois, could experience and participate in the arts. Public investment in the arts is essential for under-served and under-represented communities to have access to arts programs and resources.