There is no doubt that the artistic and cultural sectors are key for development. As a society, we believe that arts are an important part of education, for they are vectors of culture and they allow students to develop critical and creative thinking skills. By 2018, more than 90% of Americans (USA) believed that arts should be part of a “well-rounded” education. Moreover, statistics show that low-income students with a high rate of arts participation are five times more likely to succeed in school than their peers with low art participation. Studies also show that low-income students who are highly engaged in arts are twice more likely to graduate from college than their peers with no arts education. Taking into account these numbers, it’s not surprising that governments choose to fund arts education.
Art and Public Views
So, in general, we believe arts are important for our children, however, constituents seem to think they are not as important to our society. In the UK, for example, only 37% of adults support public funding of arts and culture through taxes, and 45% also believe that this funding should be reduced. This happens generally because of the perception we have of cultural and creative industries, and of the people they employ. Society tends to believe that cultural industries are trivial and dependent on public funding.
Art and Economy
But, although general constituents might not believe in public funding, by the end of 2019, cultural industries were accountable for producing, directly, 4,4% of the European Union’s total GDP and for being the third largest employer in the continent, without taking into account the indirect revenues and jobs generated by, for example, cultural tourism, which represents 40% of all European tourism. In terms of comparison, this sector has a higher economical contribution than the telecommunications, high technology, pharmaceutical or automotive industries in the European Union. In contrast, the cultural sector only accounts for an average of 1% of the public spending in the EU, meaning that countries such as Portugal, Italy and Greece, which are highly dependant on cultural tourism and have strong and dynamic cultural industries, spend less than 0,5% of their government budget on culture.
Art and Public Funding
Governmental players, may they be national, regional or local, play a key role in making culture accessible for all citizens and for bringing work opportunities for all artists. As an example, in the USA private funding shows gaps in rural support. 14% of the US population resides in rural areas, yet only 5,5% of private foundations grants’ dollars go to rural areas. Instead, 50% of private grants’ dollars to art are concentrated in only 5 states: New York, California, Washington, New Jersey and Illinois, some of the richest states in the US, which account for less than 27% of the country’s total population. In comparison, 14% of both National Endowment Agency and state arts agency grant dollars were awarded to rural communities.
So, facing these numbers we wonder: why is public investment in culture so controversial for the electorate? Why is the cultural sector one of the first that experiences funding cuts in a period of crisis? In art2act, we see public institutions as key partners of private business and creators. We believe that with them, we will be able to work toward the democratisation of art, both for artists and spectators, and for potentiating an increasing support and development of cultural industries.