6 Reasons to Support the Arts
1. Art Can Help Create a Positive Image for Missoula
Our community relies heavily on the way we are perceived in the world. With tourism and the University of Montana making up the better part of our local economy, it is essential that we present ourselves as a desirable location. While certain recent events may have dampened that image, local arts organizations are making a much bigger national and even global impact.
The Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre Company has traveled across the globe and is poised to bring a global competition to Missoula, while MCT, Inc. has been across the world spreading a positive image of our community for over 40 years. SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning, a collaboration between the Kennedy Center, the Missoula Cultural Council, and MCPS is currently serving as a model for what will be a nationwide arts education initiative.
2. Art Can Give Our Children a Better Education
SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning has in its first year alone impacted over 5,400 students in Missoula County Public Schools. The program, designed by the Kennedy Center and working in collaboration with MCPS and the Missoula Cultural Council, aims to ensure access to arts education to every child K-8 in our public schools. It has been so successful in its first year that the Kennedy Center is looking to Missoula as a model for their national intitiave. With the countless studies showing everything from dropout rates decreasing, to academic performance and SAT scores increasing with arts education and arts integration, we can be confident our students will excel.
3. Art Can Strengthen Our Economy
The Missoula Cultural Council has worked with Americans for the Arts over the years to conduct economic impact studies concerning the arts. The most recent study showed that Missoula arts non-profits generate roughly 40 million dollars in local economic activity, supporting almost 1500 full time equivalent jobs. The arts are a driving force in our economy. Just ask any downtown restaurant owner about First Friday Gallery Walk – the arts mean business in Missoula.
4. Art Connects Us to the World
In today’s world anywhere with access to the internet, or at least a decent 4G connection, can be said to be connected to the world, but organizations right here in Missoula take it an important step further. While it’s true that the world is at your fingertips, you still need to know what to look for, and often a Youtube clip of a performance, or a picture of a work of art can’t compare to interacting with the art in person (particularly when the artist responsible is miles away). However our community is blessed with tireless women and men who work hard to bring the trends, the classics, and most importantly the artists that are shaping our nation’s culture to Missoula.
The Clay Studio of Missoula, the Missoula Art Museum, the International Choral Film Festival, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and far more organizations than can even be listed here consistently bring nationally and globally recognized artists into our community sharing their talent and at times passing on tricks of the trade to our local artists.
5. A Healthy Arts Scene Leads to More Opportunities
Across all industries creative minds have the potential to excel. We’re not saying if you learn to paint you’ll suddenly understand the intricacies of tax law or structural engineering. You may not even be able to plunge a toilet, but when coupled with traditional training engagement in the arts provides you with a means to look deeper into an issue, to think outside the box, and to come up with creative solutions to complex problems. Who wouldn’t want to hire a person like that? Recent studies have shown that a majority of employers look for creativity in their employees. That means a healthy art scene in town could enhance your opportunities and it’s definitely a factor that companies consider when choosing a location.
It’s never too late to start being creative. The Clay Studio of Missoula, the Missoula Art Museum, the Zootown Arts Community Center, Missoula Community Theater, and far more than I can even list here all offer amazing creative experiences for all ages and skill levels.
6. Art Makes This Town More Fun
Whether you’re enjoying over 80 bands, dance performances, and other artists on New Year’s Eve at First Night Missoula, taking in oscar candidates at the Big Sky Film Festival, creating imaginitave art projects with your kids at the Zootown Arts Community Center, making the most of Downtown Missoula at First Friday, sharing your story with friends at Tell Us Something, or engaging in the hundreds upon hundreds of cultural and arts offerings our community offers up, there’s no denying that Missoula knows how to have a good time. You can fly fish, raft, hike, and camp nearly anywhere in this state and several places across the nation, but at the end of the day, you’ll be hard pressed to find a town this fun to spend the night.