The Importance of Art

by Sherry Heuser

Whoever said “Earth without art is just ‘eh’” must have lived in a community enriched by cultural and performing art organizations. Although funding for arts-related programs is often the first sector reduced in tough economic times, these institutions can actually be the driving force behind a community’s ability to ensure individuals vested in progress are among its citizens and in a company’s ability to attract strong talent to its workforce. People prefer to associate with organizations and participate in activities that contribute to the overall well-being and happiness of their own community. And, conversely, people prefer to live in a community which values and encourages organizations and activities they (and others) enjoy.

The arts contribute significantly to the revenue in a community and to the quality of life of its residents. When has anyone said “Let’s go visit that town—I hear it is boring there”, or chosen to relocate to a new area due to its lack of museums, theaters, performances, concerts, and galleries? Vibrant, diverse, and exciting communities are attractive to innovative people, who, in turn, develop strong and sustainable health care, educational, and environmental initiatives. Arts, and the creative class, keep us looking forward, while at the same time observing the world around us. Art is found in paying attention to interesting small details and imagining a big picture larger than ourselves, and in a history that offers us perspective and a future ready for our personal impact.

Artistic, creative, and innovative efforts are evidenced in research labs, protected lands, and engaged children. Our minds and our communities thrive when encouraged to express thoughts, challenge the unknown, and solve problems. An individual does not have to consider him- or herself “artistic” to be affected by the arts; instead, the arts are an integral part of life. Without them, life wouldn’t just be boring, it wouldn’t be. Support your local arts so that your local arts can support you.

Bottom Line: Advice we pass along to younger colleagues can continue to apply to us throughout our careers.

Sherry Heuser is president of Capability Company Consulting, a Raleigh, N.C.-based firm supporting nonprofit organizations' searches for key hires.

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