21st Century Arts instigates vitality in arts/cultural sector with series of symposia
21st Century Arts, in collaboration with PeaceArt International, has launched a series of symposiums to address issues that are critical to growing the relevance and sustainability of the arts and cultural sector in greater Rochester, New York.
The first symposium, Diversity in the Arts: A Call to Action in ROC, was held on July 24, 2014 at Rochester Institute of Technology.
The next four symposiums will be Entrepreneurship in the Arts: A Call to Action in ROC (Fall 2014), Financing the Arts (January 2015), Education and the Arts (March 2015), Building Meaningful Community Relationships and the Arts (May 2015).
Although the focus for each symposium is discrete, all 5 symposium topics impact the sustainability and relevance of the field and are inherently interrelated. For example, at the Diversity in the Arts symposium both speakers and attendees explored disparities in the availability of funding, training, and arts education to diverse communities.
Why is this important?
As Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and others have stated – outside of New York City, Rochester is the state’s City of the Arts. In its strategic plan, the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council asserts that a vibrant arts and cultural community contributes to the region’s vitality. In 2006/2007, an economic impact study of greater Rochester found that the nonprofit arts and cultural sector had a $198 million economic impact on the region.
The good news is greater Rochester is more creative than ever – producing more artists, festivals, and cultural institutions. The quality of the work produced by the cultural sector is also on the upswing. Because of the productivity in the arts and cultural sector, I am sure that a new study would show that the economic impact of arts and culture on Rochester is much higher than $198 million today. And that’s without adding the significant economic impact of for-profit artists, arts festivals, and cultural institutions.
Although there is widespread agreement of the importance of the sector and excitement about the work it produces, little is being done to address the fact it is facing a national paradigm shift and that so much of it is in structural and/or financial crisis. This is so prevalent that even as many of our most respected and well known cultural organizations are stabilizing or at least shrinking significant financial deficits, they still face persistent decreases in participation. As any student studying business 101 can tell you, cutting spending and programming without increasing customers will not lead to long term vitality.
The arts and cultural industry is comprised of many individual businesses. Just as the automobile industry needed R&D to restructure and retool to meet the structural and market challenges it faces in the 21st century. So does the arts and cultural sector. 21st Century Arts and PeaceArt International hope to start a dialogue and instigate the community to collectively explore some of the critical issues that impact the sustainability and relevance of the arts and cultural field and thus the vitality of our community.