While we’re all welcoming 2019 and resolving to lose weight and exercise more, I will pause and ask for all of us to consider a few resolutions for the arts. We take pride in the vibrant cultural life we enjoy in the Fox Valley, we value the high quality and variety of art forms in our backyards, and many of us participate in the arts. But the local arts require care and feeding to maintain long-term sustainability, so we at the Fox Arts Network (FAN) offer these resolutions for our arts organizations and their patrons.
Express gratitude:If you enjoy a concert, play, or exhibit, please remember to share your experience and your thanks with the organization. Your approval goes a long way to developing relevant programming and acknowledging the artists themselves. For arts groups, thanking patrons is often overlooked.
Regard the arts as a basic need:Our community is incredibly generous in efforts to fight the root causes of poverty by focusing on strengthening basic needs for those less fortunate. But for many the arts are essential to life and can even be a respite from poverty. Even the United Nations recognizes the critical role arts play in defining humanity by stating such in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The document states, “everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in (its) advancement and its benefits.”
Tell your story:The arts can change lives—they rescue teens, connect professionals to a community, and awaken those suffering from a dementia. Figure out how the arts have been a catalyst for change or enrichment and tell those stories to patrons and prospective donors. And for you donors out there, ask how an arts organization is transforming lives and communities through programming or services.
Advocate on behalf of the arts:Wisconsin is near the bottom of the pack in states that spend tax dollars on the arts, yet we are bordered by states that invest heavily in the arts (Michigan and Minnesota). Based on the most recent study from the Wisconsin Arts Board, local nonprofit arts organizations generate $657 million in economic activity annually statewide, resulting in nearly $75 million in local and state tax revenues, 26,695 in full-time equivalent jobs and $555 million in resident income. If you want a voice in how your tax dollars are spent, contact your state representatives and share your arts story with them.
Keep your entertainment dollar local: Your presence at a performance or exhibit is the best present any arts organization could get. Attend a play or concert. Visit an exhibit. Show your support for the local arts by skipping Netflix or the latest blockbuster and show your support at the box office. During the holidays, we observed the Shop Local movement to support small retail businesses – why not do the same with your entertainment dollar?
This article was published in the Appleton Post Crescent on 12.30.18 and written by Mary Schmidt for the Fox Arts Network. newVoices is a founding member of the Fox Arts Network, a grassroots organization of local arts groups.