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State arts leaders meet in Dover for Delaware Arts Summit

State arts leaders attend workshop at annual DE Arts Summit

The arts are recognized for enriching lives, but according to one national advocate, they're also a powerful driver of economic development.

Randy Cohen of Americans for the Arts spoke at Monday's annual Delaware Arts Summit in Dover. He says recent data reveals First State arts organizations spend more than $103 million a year.

“When we invest in the arts we’re not investing in a frill, we’re investing in an industry; one that supports jobs and generates government revenue and a lot of people just don’t appreciate the fact that arts organizations are businesses," he says. "They employ people locally, they purchase goods and services in the community, arts organizations are good business citizens.”

Cohen adds the typical arts organization only gets about 60 percent of its income from ticket sales. He says that makes it vital for local governments to financially support arts programming.

At the day long summit, state arts leaders attended workshops designed to provide insight on how to improve their arts advocacy efforts.   

Mark Fields, Executive Director of the Grand Opera House and Alan Jordan, Executive Director of the DSO were among attendees at DE Arts Summit

Panels focused on things like building audiences, creating a social media strategy and taking advantage of partnership development resources unique to Delaware.

Cohen also touted the benefits of creating access to arts and culture in attracting young professionals who can help revitalize communities like downtown Wilmington.

“We see more and more cities and states across the country really investing in these creative, cultural districts,' he says. " And so HR people are trying to figure out how to attract these young workers. Well, creative, culturally vibrant communities is always up towards the top of the list that these workers are looking for. They want to live in a cool community and who doesn’t, right?"

Cohen publishes The National Arts Index, the annual measure of the health and vitality of arts in the U.S.

This piece is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.