Sure, you are probably aware that there's a plethora of arts offerings in Norman: galleries, museums, music festivals, theatre, public art, art walks. Every day of the year, Norman residents have access to art. But the arts have many more, unseen impacts on our community and we thought you might like to know a bit more about those—because YOU make them happen when you support the arts!
Arts Drive Tourism—This is true EVERYWHERE in the world. Here in Norman, Oklahoma, the arts draw an audience of over 1 million people annually, and many of those people are visiting from outside the community. When you give money to the arts, you support the programs that drive tourism. Visitors from out of town coming to arts event in Norman spend an average of $61 per person in the community during their visit.
Arts Strengthen the Economy—Annually, the arts in Norman support over 1,400 full-time equivalent jobs and generate over $1.8 million in local tax revenue. That means when you give to the arts, you are giving back to the entire Norman community.
Arts Unify Communities—When you give money to the arts in Norman, you are making our community stronger. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that communities with high concentrations of arts have higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, and lower poverty rates. When you support the arts, we are all stronger.
Arts Improve Academic Performance—Children who engage in the arts have higher GPAs and higher standardized test scores and lower drop-out rates. When you give money to the arts in Norman, you invest in programs that directly engage our community’s children in arts learning through partnerships with the Norman Public Schools and outside-the-classroom arts learning opportunities.
However, there is sometimes a perception that because so much of the art in our community is free that it also doesn’t cost much to produce. That is far from true. The 2nd Friday Art Walk is one of Norman's most popular events. Every month, thousands of people visit the arts organizations, galleries, shops, music venues and restaurants of the Walker Arts District in Downtown. For many shops and restaurants, it's their busiest day of the year. However, the annual cost for the Norman Arts Council to produce 2nd Friday is $40,000. That is money that has to be raised through donations.
The Norman Music Festival, a signature Norman arts event that's both free and hits all those community benefits, is another example. 100,000 people partake in the free music and visit our restaurants and bars. However, the cost to produce the festival every year is over $250,000. All of that money has to be raised each year.
Norman is on the rise as a community known for great public art. Public art is free and accessible to everyone by design—it lives in the public spaces of our town. We are fortunate to have programs like a 1% for art that funds the creation and installation of new, major works of art like the two Pioneer Library sculptures Prairie Wind and Unbound. However, that is not where the work ends. There are over 120 works of public art in Norman and the annual cost for the Norman Arts Council to manage that is $65,000. All of that money has to be raised.
We in the arts pride ourselves on the fact that we can make a lot of good happen on very lean budgets, but we MUST have the community supporting us to make any of this work. If any one of our arts organizations would fail to raise the money they need to operate, then we would not see the $1.8 million in tax dollars generated that drive our economy. We would not have over a million people attending events and spending money locally. And we would not be able to step into the schools to provide the arts learning that is vital to the success of our children.
The arts are different, and we recognize that we are often seen as a luxury. However, we know that the work that we do is important to the health of our community. And we know that when people make a choice to support a charity, choosing between supporting the arts and a social service can be a hard choice.
But the arts ARE a social service.
When you give money to the arts, it means so much more than supporting the arts organization itself—it is truly an investment in our ENTIRE community. However, despite all the proven good the arts do, we struggle every single day to keep our organizations funded. If every citizen of Norman gave just $4 to the arts once a year, we could more than double our impact in the community.
For more information on how you can support the arts in Norman, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW MUCH DO THE ARTS COST?
The 2nd Friday Art Walk costs $40,000 annually to produce.
The Norman Music Festival costs over $250,000 annually to produce.
Public art in Norman costs $65,000 annually to manage and support.