I came across this post which summarizes quite well my own views in regards to arts advocacy.
It should come as no surprise to any of my loyal blog readers that I support the arts, on the national/professional level as well as the local/amateur level. Certainly I support them in our schools. Which is why I have been troubled, as many have been, with the dwindling monetary support for the arts from both public and private sources over the last few decades.
Enter arts advocacy groups.
Their job of course is to reverse this trend, and there are many ways to go about it. One of the most popular these days, however, is also one that I think is the least effective. As the post states, there is a great deal of attention put into educating policy makers on the economic impact of the arts. How many jobs they create. How much money they put into the economy. The types of businesses that indirectly profit from an arts presence in a neighborhood. While I don't dispute the truth of the numbers, this position has always bothered me because it fails to advocate for arts as an end unto themselves.
We have already lost the fight for the arts if we cannot come up with reasons why they are the life blood of a civilized, cultured society. If people still view them as elitist, removed institutions with which they cannot identify, than our job is to share why arts of all kinds are so vital in their own right. Not to try to be clever and work around the apathy by making the, "look how much money the arts can make" argument. Because if that is the best we have, the arts get crushed in a rather simple comparison to other institutions.
Make the arts important because they are the arts, and not because they provide X number of jobs, (almost none of which would be accessible to a struggling community's citizens anyway, let's face it.)
As you can see from the article, yours truly left a similar comment in the comments section of the piece.