Augusta is blessed with diverse performing art organizations, from Creative Impressions and Storyland Theater to the Augusta Symphony.
John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School is a wonderful example of the strength of Augusta arts. In 2004, Davidson was named the 2004 National Grammy Signature School for its outstanding music program. No other school in Georgia made the top 40. Also, Davidson had the highest ACT scores, and ranked first in the state for overall achievement. Such excellence doesn't happen overnight. It is a by-product of a thriving arts community.
We have learned that our city government wants to cut all funding to the arts. All Augustans need to demand public support for the arts. Not only has research correlated arts education with higher grades, better attendance records and greater community activity - especially among poor families - there are numerous studies that connect arts funding with economic growth.
Art organizations are businesses that employ local residents and engage in local consumer spending. Art events draw audiences that spend substantial money at local restaurants, hotels, clubs and shops.
Moreover, art organizations support public facilities such as the Bell Auditorium. A 2002 study by Americans for the Arts indicated that America's nonprofit arts industry generates $134 billion in economic activity annually. Arts organizations spend $53.2 billion, and audiences spend $80.8 billion. It led to almost $25 billion in local, state and federal revenue in one year.
Augusta art organizations spend more than $6.5 million each year, reaching audiences exceeding 400,000 people. These numbers alone guarantee a significant economic benefit to Augusta. The diversity and number of arts organizations in Augusta helps promote the desire to live in Augusta, tourism and trade shows or conferences, all of which lead to economic growth.
Let your government know that you support funding for the arts. Investing in the arts is investing in better students, a better community and economic and social growth.
Robert A. Mullins
(Editor's note: The writer is president of the Greater Augusta Arts Council.)
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