Charles Isherwood recently wrote about the Lower Manhattan Arts Leaders, a group of eleven downtown arts organizations that have joined forces to exchange ideas and make the case that culture – and therefore arts funding – is an essential part of city life. He explained:
“Support for the arts, in [the Lower Manhattan Arts Leaders’] view, is not simply a matter of cultural philanthropy, it’s also a smart and necessary way to sustain a vibrant urban environment, to keep any city from becoming a patchwork of chain stores, steroidal gyms and name-brand coffee shops. It’s forward-thinking city planning.
“…The idea of safety in numbers has more than one dimension as it applies here. One of the first orders of business was translating into actual statistics the powerful influence these companies collectively have on the economic health of the neighborhood. Although individually they are mostly small fry when it comes to the arts in the city — with annual budgets from just $32,000 to $3 million — the companies together create some 1,500 full- or part-time jobs. They serve an audience of 275,000 annually and have an aggregate budget of $15 million.”