It is amazing that some newspapers have come out against a $50 million increase in funding to the National Endowment for the Arts. The new total will be less than Richard Nixon spent on the Arts Endowment and probably less than half in today’s dollars.
But more importantly, arts dollars will stimulate our lagging economy. A little more subsidy will dramatically increase the number of performances being offered, bringing people out of their homes and away from gloomy television reporting on the impending depression. Folks will come downtown, buy dinner or even stay overnight in a hotel and make a night of it. All this stimulates Main Street.
Back in the 1930s when President Franklin Roosevelt was faced with a run on the banks in the depth of financial crisis, he successfully appealed to the nation to have faith. “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” His message was don’t hoard your money, spend it!
Newspapers, an endangered species, should support the Arts Endowment increase because theaters are among their most loyal advertisers, filling profitable entertainment sections and giving people a reason to keep their subscriptions.
Our nonprofit arts presenting company spends 45 cents in advertising for every dollar paid to performers. And another 14 cents on food and lodging. It has long been established that people purchasing a couple of $39 tickets will spend about twice that amount on dinner, hotel and even shopping downtown on their way to the theater.
Want to impact Main Street? Consider doubling that $50 million investment.