We Want Your Ideas! Investing in Infrastructure for the Arts
The Economist has a short piece about the opportunities and pitfalls in Obama’s plan to make massive investments in infrastructure projects. The writer observes that the US has historically underinvested in infrastructure, while the projects that are carried out are funded in a haphazard manner through Congressional member items with little or no federal oversight or planning.
In our current rush to stimulate the economy by funding many projects as quickly as possible, it’s more important than ever that we have a coherent strategy to ensure that infrastructure spending is really an investment in economic growth instead of just a way to provide some short-term jobs. Part of that strategy should include targeted investments aimed at bolstering the creative sector.
The arts are an unparalleled driver of economic development, especially in cities. A vibrant cultural sector brings quality-of-life improvements that attract knowledge workers from other industries, increases the property tax base, and attracts tourism dollars. (Yes, gentrification is a concern, but it’s a problem that can be mitigated with responsible planning.) And if “bang for the buck” is a serious consideration - which it should be - then we could do worse than to invest in an industry that for centuries has devised ways to accomplish great things on shoestring budgets.
What would these infrastructure investments look like? Affordable space in which to live and work. Adequate financing for capital projects. Tax incentives and economic development programs that no longer discriminate against non-profits.
Over the next few months, Fractured Atlas is going to be promoting this vision in New York, Washington, and anywhere else where they’ll listen to us. But we need more ideas! So, what are YOUR thoughts about investing in our cultural infrastructure? Post them in the comments here. If they seem worthwhile and doable, we’ll make sure they’re included in the policy discussions that unfold.