III. The plot tries to thicken. If you think arts managers’ decisions have little consequence beyond our personal convenience and enjoyment, here are some staggering numbers.

In 2004, the arts accounted for 2.6 million paid admissions to events. City-funded organizations alone sold 1.5 million of those to out-of-city visitors. The public’s return-on-local-investment generated nearly 5,000 jobs, about $91 million in resident household income and $369 million in tourist dollars. San Diego attracts 2.7 million visitors who decide to come here in part because of its cultural attractions – about a half million more than San Francisco.

Even if you don’t give a rat’s ass about the arts, the business and economic implications should enrich your cultural intelligence.

Don’t get me started – OK, I’ll get started – on the value of the arts to education. Chris Lavin, the San Diego Union-Tribune‘s special sections editor, said it best to the Performing Arts League last week:

The most successful, high achieving students are ones who play an instrument, appear in a school play, and sing in the school musical. Sports long ago stopped being the purveyor of good character, but despite the long lists of felonies and misdemeanors: that myth soldiers on. The prisons of California are not filled with people who appreciate Shakespeare and had the chance to understand the composition of a great landscape painting.

In other words, check NFL rap sheets.


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