How Important Is Art?

Sandy Adler, Class 26
Realtor, Arizona Best Real Estate

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

Members of class XXVI spent a wonderful day learning about art in Scottsdale. Highlights included a tour of public art and in-depth discussion about the value of art in Scottsdale. In an economy where many people are struggling financially, is it appropriate to designate limited funds to support the arts when people have other needs that are more basic such as food, clothing and shelter?

I would argue that arts are important in any economy. I loved Mike Seiden’s opening comments when he quoted Dreiser who said, “Art is the stored honey of the soul.”  Supporting arts in Scottsdale is good for our souls and also good for our business.

Art is an important expression of who we are as a city. Why?

  • The public art pieces all around the city create a special environment here that residents enjoy every day.
  • The art all around us in our city is uplifting and encourages us to see our world as a place of beauty even when times might be tough for us individually.
  • The art in Scottsdale goes beyond just the specific pieces created by working artists.

There have been studies showing that exposure to art (music, visual art, creative arts) creates more compassion in people and increases intellectual ability. Many class members could share examples of how participating in the arts has enriched their lives. The Vietnamese children’s art that we viewed in the Young at Art gallery at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts clearly illustrated how visual art can provide cathartic release for people and tell important stories.

In addition to the intangible benefits of supporting the arts, there are important economic reasons for supporting them in Scottsdale. The city has been marketed as a place to find world class art experiences. The Scottsdale Visitor and Convention Bureau markets Scottsdale as a place to visit and do business. We learned that arts are a critically important piece of what they do and the art scene in Scottsdale has been recognized around the world for many years. The municipal art collection in Scottsdale was started in 1967 and today is comprised of hundreds of pieces.

So, what do you think?  Is Scottsdale doing the right thing by supporting the arts?


1 Comment

Filed under Class, Community, News

One response to “How Important Is Art?

  1. John Washington

    You start with the right question and end with the wrong one.

    There is no doubt that “art” is important to Scottsdale’s residents, tourists, reputation, and economy. “How important” should include at least a nod to cost/benefit analysis.

    I’ll be the first to admit that the “benefit” part is extremely difficult to quantify. Every attempt I’ve seen is glaring self-serving. However, “cost” is easy. Further, it should be easy to find ways to reduce the cost of of art.

    Particularly in Scottsdale where Public Art (which appears to be the focus of this post) falls under the umbrella of a “management services agreement” which appears to contribute little actual management to the program, the minders (contract administrators and City Council) ought to demand more transparency in how our taxpayer funds are spent in supporting Public Art…not to mention the performing arts and contemporary art divisions.

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