The Arts and Culture Sector is not yet seen as it should be…

Executive Director’s Letter
December 11, 2012

As we climb out of the swamp of the 2008 recession, the United States finds itself fretting about the possibility of falling off yet another (if self-imposed) financial cliff.  In addition to the economy’s impact on the most vulnerable among us, we are also reflecting on effects that may be felt by the arts and culture community.  

While the nonprofit sector as a whole has experienced contraction and consolidation, the arts and culture sector has struggled especially hard.  Seen through this lens, we have been remarkably resilient—creating cooperative management structures and pursuing novel funding options, living in a permanent state of doing more (or at least the same) with less and less again.  

But underlying these difficulties is a perspective that arts and culture are a ‘nice to have’, not a ‘need to have’.  The sector is not yet viewed as it should be—a significant contributor in creating vibrant, livable, and economically successful communities.  

And once again, the potential to be swept up in political wrangling is a reality. Serious consideration is being given to eliminating tax deductions for charitable contributions.  Unfortunately, those deductions have been used wholesale into arguments about loopholes, equity, and the 1% paying its fair share.  Their elimination would prove to be particularly difficult for museums, but would have a negative impact on all cultural organizations. To quote Americans for the Arts,  “Unlike other tax deductions, charitable giving incentives do not enrich individual donors: they are an investment in the public good. Preserving tax incentives for charitable giving will expand nonprofit services and provide a net benefit to the public.”

Time is of the essence.  I urge you to take a moment now to use the Americans for the Arts website to contact your elected officials and remind them that arts, cultural, historic, heritage and attraction organizations are job creators, engines of economic activity, and significant factors in restoring the vibrancy of cities and other communities throughout the country.


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