Creating opportunity for the arts —and equitable access to the arts— is key to building healthy, vibrant and compassionate people and communities.

This isn’t just our opinion. It’s backed by research.

  • Early involvement in the arts correlates to individual achievement, discipline, and civic engagement. A student involved in the arts is four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement or to participate in a math and science fair, and three times more likely to win an award for school attendance or to be elected to class office. These findings are reflected across socio-economic status.
  • The arts inspire creative thinking and problem-solving at school and at work, and a 2010 Conference Board Survey of American CEOs identified creativity as the number one trait they seek in today’s graduates.
  • The arts promote physical, emotional and psychological health and healing. More than 40 percent of our nation’s healthcare institutions incorporate art into their patient and caregiver programming.
  • The arts elevate the quality of life, and in a recent study conducted by ArtsFund, 95 percent of the 3,500 patrons surveyed cited the arts as significantly influencing their decision to move to the Puget Sound region or to stay.

Simply put, the arts advance the human condition. Unfortunately, inequitable access to the arts inures to the detriment of individuals and particularly youth in marginalized communities.

An Opportunity for Outreach, Accessibility, and Inclusion

Across the country, nonprofit art organizations rely on funding to maintain programs and provide services to their community. In Seattle, ArtsFund has spent nearly 50 years working with community leaders and investors to build a vibrant arts sector, break down barriers and increase access and opportunities.

ArtsFund also seeks out organizations that have faced historical barriers to traditional funding and support mechanisms. This effort strengthens the arts ecosystem with broad initiatives, and also provides programs, services, trainings, and funding to the individual arts groups so they have the means to evolve, innovate, and ensure broad access to the important work they do.

With the help of ArtsFund, the Seattle Shakespeare Company made a substantial commitment to feature artists of color two years ago. Last year, the organization began showcasing bilingual English/Spanish versions of their touring shows.

They also bring productions of Shakespeare’s work to students across Washington state, many of whom would not otherwise have access to professional theatre.

The Next Steps for Donors
  • Learn about the varying methods of support an arts grantmaker can provide, such as advocacy work and producing economic and social impact studies.
  • Understand the impact of the arts from a national level. Americans for the Arts is a national nonprofit that works to ensure every American has access to the transformative power of the arts.

In this time marked by many forces that can push us apart, it is the arts that help bind us and bring us back together. The arts heal our hearts, open our minds, and remind us of our common humanity. The arts are more important now than ever to help build a healthy, vibrant and compassionate community.


Original contribution by Mari Horita, president and CEO of ArtsFund.