● exhibitions of the world’s most rare, important and exquisite works of art and photographs
● the opportunity to share the wonder and excitement of creativity with more than a million schoolchildren each year.
In short, private support of the arts has catapulted the development of Atlanta as an attractive center of culture and creativity. It has helped to attract businesses and the people we need to compete. Every dollar spent to create the Memorial Arts Building in 1968 has returned more than $1,000 in taxable development over the past 40 years in Midtown alone.
Yet, despite these results, the arts receive very little public sector financial support. In 2008, the Woodruff Arts Center generated $5.4 million in state and local sales tax revenues while receiving only $850,000 from city, county and state sources.
Our recently adopted strategic plan stresses creating a landmark destination and using our combined excellence in all the arts to improve education as a part of our core mission. By locating the concert hall and educational facilities we need on our existing campus, we reduce both new construction and future operating costs while energizing our entire city. We must reinvest in this 40-year-old facility if it is to continue to support the robust cultural economy it fostered.
The arts in Atlanta are about culture, education, jobs and economic development. Our future success requires that we maintain a leadership position as a creative community in which business, education and innovation can thrive. In this effort, our arts and culture community play a critical role. So in times of economic stress — when schools and individuals are forced to cut back — the need to support the arts for the near- and long-term development of our children, our economy and jobs for the future has never been greater.
Joseph R. Bankoff is president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center