Given the current economic climate, when members of the General Assembly debate the budget proposals of Gov. Kaine we urge them to protect arts funding from suffering a reduction that is disproportionate to those applied to other areas of the state government (“State Cuts $100K From Local Arts,” Street Talk, Dec. 17).
In Virginia, arts and culture are a $1 billion dollar industry, employing 20,000 people, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, and drawing both national and international tourists. People are already taking more “staycations,” as they look to avoid airfares and hotel expenses. A strong arts sector encourages people to stay local and attend cultural events close to home, boosting local economies.
A strong arts and culture presence can also assist with economic development. Though arts offerings are not the main reason for a company to move to Virginia, combined with other factors such as taxes, schools and work force potential, a strong arts presence can give the state an edge over another.
When support for the arts is reduced, it is not the frills that are being cut. Rather, the reduction is undercutting an industry that is a cornerstone of tourism, economic development and the revitalization of many downtowns. When support for the arts increases, the result is an increase in tax revenues, jobs and a creativity-based economy.
The arts are part of the solution to the challenges that the Commonwealth of Virginia and the country face today. The arts bring inspiration, meaning and enjoyment to our lives — they are instrumental in strengthening our communities educationally, socially and economically. Please support Gov. Kaine's budget for arts funding and encourage Virginia legislators to do the same.
Kirk Spitzer, Chairman
The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen Board of Directors
Retired Chief Executive, Alfa Laval Inc.