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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 9, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Arts Endowment increase

Turning away from gloomy television sets

It is amazing some newspapers have come out against a $50 million increase in funding to the National Endowment for the Arts. The new total will be less than half of what Richard Nixon spent on the Arts Endowment in today’s dollars.

But more important, arts dollars will stimulate our lagging economy.

A little more subsidy will dramatically increase the number of performances being offered, bringing people out of their homes and away from gloomy television reporting on the impending depression. In other words, the arts are a way to stimulate Main Street.

Back in the 1930s when President Roosevelt was faced with a run on the banks in the depth of financial crisis, he successfully appealed to the nation to have faith saying, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”

His message was “don’t hoard your money, spend it!”

Newspapers should support the Arts Endowment increase because theaters are among their most loyal advertisers, filling profitable entertainment sections and giving people a reason to keep their subscriptions.

My nonprofit, arts-presenting company spends 45 cents in advertising for every dollar paid to performers and another 14 cents on food and lodging. It has long been established that people purchasing a couple of $39 tickets will spend about twice that amount on dinner, hotel and shopping downtown on their way to the theater.

Want to impact Main Street? Consider doubling that $50 million investment.

— David Shaw, Everett

Supporting employment and diversity

Recent negative comments about including funding for the arts in the stimulus package are shortsighted and do not take into account basic financial facts.

Nonprofit arts organizations are proud members of the business community: They employ people locally, purchase goods and services and are instrumental in the promotion of their cities.

There are more full-time jobs supported by the nonprofit arts than are in accounting, public-safety officers, lawyers and just slightly fewer than elementary-school teachers.

There are approximately 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations, which spend $63.1 billion annually. Without an economic stimulus for this industry, experts expect about 10 percent of these organizations, ranging from large arts institutions like museums and orchestras to small community-based organizations in suburban, urban and rural areas, to shut their doors in 2009 — a loss of 260,000 jobs.

The Seattle Metropolitan area is a terrific place to live, based in no small part upon on our fantastic diversity of arts institutions, large and small. Belittling funding assistance for nonprofit arts organizations disregards the important financial impact arts organizations have on the vitality of a community.

— Maggie Stenson Pehrson, Seattle

Comments | More in Arts, Economic stimulus bills

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