Restarting Florida’s Economy: Strong State Support for Florida’s Arts and Culture Industry When the pandemic hit last year, it was said that the arts would be the first to close and the last to re-open. This unfortunately has proven to be accurate. However, arts re-opening is soon to be a reality. This is why strong State funding for the arts is so important right now.
Joyfully, we are hearing that there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. For Florida’s non-profit Arts and Culture Industry, we are planning for lights to be turned back on in our theaters, museums and arts centers - and to see audiences fully return, in-person! It is essential for arts organizations to have adequate resources to re-emerge and to help people engage in safe, exciting and family-friendly arts activities.
As Florida’s elected officials grapple with the budget and with meaningful ways to use its federal American Rescue Plan Act monies, we are counting on their allocating the much-needed funding for arts organizations to restart their programs and help restart Florida’s economy. When arts institutions closed and events stopped last year, it had the devastating effect of stopping all tickets sales, admissions receipts and subscriptions. Florida reported over $220 million in losses and COVID-related expenses and 20,455 Florida arts workers/jobs terminated, furloughed or not filled.
Helping arts organizations now is helping restore thousands of jobs and offering the kinds of arts events and activities that contribute to Florida’s stature as a great place to work, visit and raise a family. This takes meaningful, yet relatively modest, State financial support.
This is essential not just for the more than 227,000 arts workers who have jobs as curators and security guards, and stagehands and accountants. It also is a lifeline for millions of arts attendees and for helping to restart Florida’s overall economy.
If you think about it, going to the theater, to an outdoor arts festival or to a museum is a key indicator of economic well-being. On the way, millions of Florida arts-goers spend money in restaurants and shops and animate our neighborhoods, making them exciting and safe.
Just as importantly, Florida’s image around the world has been energized by our growth as a destination for diverse, world-class arts institutions and events. Our state has great recreational opportunities, enviable climate, distinctive cuisine and restaurants, and an outstanding infrastructure for business and tourism. What gives us a competitive edge is having one of the world’s most diverse and dynamic arts and cultural calendars, coast to coast to coast.
The arts are still occasionally thought about in outdated and inaccurate stereotypes. Here in 21st century Florida, in cities and towns across our State, the arts are museums offering educational programs for families and kids, theaters presenting free and affordable performances, and outdoor festivals celebrating communities’ unique character and cultures. The arts are accessible and affordable for every Floridian and for every visitor to our extraordinary State.
The tremendous advantage we have is that the Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs has thoroughly reviewed and recommended grant support for hundreds of arts activities throughout Florida. This ensures that State arts grants are sound investments that produce the economic dividends that are so important for getting us out of the pandemic. And magnifying this investment, every State dollar allocated for in the arts generates another $9 of matching funds.
We have an incredible opportunity for the arts to help us find our way to a post-COVID-19 world. Florida’s elected leaders can help the arts help our State by allocating meaningful levels of funds to re-energize arts organizations who will work hard on re-activating our economy. The State’s investing in the arts is an investment in restarting our lives, our economy and our future.
Florida Cultural Alliance (FCA) is a not-for-profit organization created in 1983 to develop an informed and engaged statewide non-partisan advocacy network among arts and culture organizations, individuals, artists, businesses and local, state, and federal policymakers and staff. This network would strategically collaborate to increase state’s investment in Florida artists and arts and cultural organizations and elevate the industry, as a whole to its rightful place as an integral element to the vibrancy of what is now the world’s 17th largest economy.