Today, I had the good fortune to sit in on a “Listening” with the California Arts Council and local Los Angeles arts advocates at the Wells Fargo Theater at the Autry Museum. One thing that seems to run through the Arts Community is a concerned and educated tone of voice. I was particularly impressed with an extempore talk given by John Gallogly, Executive Director of Theatre West.
Gallogly made mention of EIRs: Environmental Impact Reports that are made all the time to show how our physical environment is impacted by our human invasion of nature. He suggested that the State of California organize a CIR: Cultural Impact Report that would show in a very real way how one student dropping out of school because he/she could no longer participate in art or theatre or music classes fiscally impacts the state.
Below are some of Gallogly’s comments, edited to emphasize the main point that he made that was most impressive to me: the vital importance of the Arts and Culture aspects of our daily lives in California. By urging support of AB580, the California Arts Council may again regain funding to further the Arts and in so doing move to save lives and funds in the future. Wyoming spends more per capita on the Arts than we do in California. I have not vetted Gallogly's statistics, but it makes sense to me that finding ways to create an atmosphere where art may thrive certainly is a very good idea. Michael Sheehan
“Create a Cultural Impact Report (CIR) ala an Environmental Impact Report. At the beginning of any planning process across all state departments, research and apply the known, off the shelf, cheaper arts solutions wherever they are appropriate, just as one does with an EIR.
Myriad studies in prisons, juvenile justice, hospitals, elder care, early education, after school programs etc. all show how involvement in the arts leads to better end results at lower cost. For example in post op patients who are exposed to 1/2 hour of live music in their rooms have shorter hospital stays (by 1/2 day) and a better rate of recovery. (Americans for the Arts)
Do the cost benefit analysis of that equation and the $100 investment in a musician pays a 5,000% rate of return in reduced hospital costs. Each high school dropout costs society $285,000 over a lifetime in lowered earnings, less taxes paid, more frequent incarceration, early and/or out of wedlock pregnancy, more use of social services, etc. (NY Times, two articles).
We all know many students only stay in school for athletics. There are at least as many whose reason to get up in the morning is glee club, band, drama dept, etc. If a drama teacher costs $100,000 a year and keeps one child in school every two years, it's still a huge return of investment. Instituting a Cultural Impact Report would help create access and LOWER costs for the state across multiple platforms. It seems clear to me that investing in the California Arts Council in this way would save the state an enormous amount of money even while providing more access to those who need it most.“
Mike Boehm's article has much of the important information that supporters of the arts should know: