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WHY COMMUNITY ARTS

Culture has long been at the heart of community life and has played an especially significant role in the development of great American cities and towns.

The value of culture as a way in which communities can define, revitalize, and sustain themselves has become a matter of wide public discussion, planning, and public policy research. Many of the threads that once held communities together have worn thin. Community life, whether rooted in isolated rural regions, sprawling suburbs, or dense city neighborhoods, has been increasingly eroded by negative forces such as the concentration of poverty, declining tax-supported public services, middle-class flight, commercial disinvestment, de facto segregation, mindless development, and endless, solitary commutes.

Investment in policies, organizations, and individuals that promote and undertake art and cultural activities will not solve all the economic, social and educational problems buffeting communities today. However, a growing body of research and practical experience suggests that investment in art and culture can help address these issues.

We hope the information included in the Arts Resource Network will help you with your community-focused projects.

Art and cultural activities can help:

  • give members of a community a positive sense of identity and cohesion while contributing to local democracy;
  • revitalize and improve the economies of cities, towns, suburbs, and rural areas;
  • increase educational attainment and cultural literacy; and
  • bridge social barriers and address some of society's most pervasive systemic problems.

Excerpted from Strengthen Communities Through Culture
Center for Arts and Culture

Shown: Salmon in the Trees, Salmon in the City 2001, Natalie Fobes. Photo: Kim Baker.
Salmon in the Trees, Salmon in the City 2001, Natalie Fobes.
Photo: Kim Baker.
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