PhillyInc: Creatively Robust | Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/21/2010
The slogan for my production company, White Pines Productions (see link on the right) is by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A creative economy is the fuel of magnificence”. For evidence that I and my artistic familiars are living in the right city, look no further than this article:
Some of its findings are shocking. Philly rakes in four times more revenue in the performing arts than the national average. Not four percent more. Four times more. Just staying with the perfroming arts for a minute (the article details similar findings for museums and graphic artists), that translates into four times more young people spending money on things like food, gifts, clothing, transportation and, oh yes, taxes in the region. Talented, creative, energetic young people – the kind urban centers fight to keep. And guess what? Philly is keeping them.
You expect me to extol the virtues of the great artists living here, right? Well sure. We’re pretty great. But the real heroes in this story are the arts funders: The Pew Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, The Haas Trusts and the various public/private partnerships they engender to keep theaters, dance companies, museums, studios and concert halls afloat. We are blessed to live in a city peopled by a Medicis and Mellons, Carnegies and Earls of Sussexes. It has been this way for the arts since the beginning: we are not businesses, we suck at making money, we’re not meant to, so we rely on patrons who realize the immense value we bring to the community in terms of spiritual sustenance, to get us from one month to the next. Artists in Philadelphia are blessed to have wealthy people looking out for us, and making our work a priority. These people are visionaries and we owe them or very best, so that we might continue to earn their love and support, and continue to make Philadelphia a destination for young artists everywhere.
So in a week in which we are celebrating Cliff Lee, DeSean Jackson and Mike Richards, let’s add to that list every donor large or small that has committed financial support to the arts in this city. The proof is in the pudding, well described in the article above. So have a spoon-full. And Merry Christmas!