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Sam Hoyt on arts funding

The American Repertory Theatre of Western New York has tagged New York State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt to write a letter in support of the arts, now posted on its Web site. An excerpt:

There are still those who view the arts as either something that benefits only those who are actively engaged in them or else as something inessential - an extra. Of course I know that you all don't feel this way, but sometimes it's an uphill battle to get people to recognize that the arts and cultural [sic] offer something so much more and that they provide essential contributions to our state's economic viability.

I'm not talking here about the inherent challenges of simply selling more tickets to more events, or bringing in more out-of-market tourist dollars - as important as those goals are. What I'm talking about is a new way of re-conceptualizing the role of the arts and the humanities in our state's economy.

Hoyt argues that it's important to start thinking of the arts as an important economic sector -- a fact plenty of people, both in the government and the community at large, have a difficult time wrapping their heads around.

That Hoyt's message appears on the Web site of ART, a small and relatively new theater company with not a heck of a lot of reach, is curious. The first part of it reads like a campaign pitch and the rest is peppered with the sort of political-speak that uses a whole lot of words without saying much of anything specific. But still, it's heartening to see that Hoyt seems to have the arts at heart.

Judging by that scary amendment that was included and then (thankfully) eliminated from the federal stimulus bill, plenty of other politicians still have something to learn about culture's place in the economy.

--Colin Dabkowski

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