The time to support the arts and imagine the future is now

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Jan. 31 was Inspire Your Heart with Art Day and what has been on my mind for more than a week now is the poem The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman.

Tom Katzenmeyer, CEO, president of the Arts Council

Tom Katzenmeyer, CEO, president of the Arts Council

On Jan. 20 we welcomed a new administration and swore in a vice president who represents several firsts for our country. But the next day, everyone on my Zoom meetings and in my social media feeds was talking about a 22-year-old woman who stole the show with her powerful art.

She inspired a nation in desperate need of inspiration.

It is not surprising that much of the inauguration’s virtual show relied on art to inspire and convey the overarching theme of healing. Art is an integral part of our lives. Even people who don’t consider themselves patrons of the arts experience its effects—whether it’s singing along to a song on the radio that raises their spirits for a few moments, or tuning into their favorite television show and finding common ground with a well-acted character.

We are impacted in other ways. I have often noted the economic impact of the arts. The arts industry has been hit hardest by the pandemic and the ripple effect has been felt far and wide. Creative industries support 289,321 jobs in Ohio’s economy annually. These jobs translate into tax revenue and consumer spending.  For every $1 spent on a ticket at a small venue, a total $12 in economic activity is generated—think restaurants, parking, hotels, taxis, etc.

The arts are part of an ecosystem that includes events professionals, skilled tech workers, restaurant workers and administrators.

At the Greater Columbus Arts Council we are still advocating for and supporting the arts, although, as we too recover from the pandemic, we are doing our work with less dollars than we’d hoped. We are listening and adjusting our processes where we can in order to meet the immediate needs of artists and arts organizations.

Humanity needs the arts now more than ever, and the arts need us. We cannot control the run of the pandemic, or the vaccine distribution. We can, however, band together to ensure that organizations survive to reopen to full capacity as soon as it is safe. We can buy tickets and donate. Donations to the Arts Council help us free up public dollars to keep more artists working and arts programs alive. Unrestricted donations to arts organizations matter now more than ever.

Remember how you felt the last time any work of art made you smile, cry, connect with someone else or inspired you. Embrace that feeling, pay it forward and invest in the arts today.

— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.