Sen. Steve Farley, who came up with the plan, believes the money will benefit the economy and all of Arizona’s residents by creating wealth for the community as well as beginning to restore the arts in the state.
The Tucson Democrat said when there are more cultural activities available in the community, tourists spend more money, businesses move and stay in Arizona and college graduates decide to start their lives in the state instead of moving elsewhere.
“If you have a vibrant cultural scene of people thinking differently, of people becoming creative, that pays off in so many different ways, not just in the direct result of all the jobs that are created,” Farley said. “It gets people understanding that this is a place that values its culture and therefor they want to invest here.”
Farley said this $1 million could end up bringing $20 million to $30 million into the economy. “This is a very small investment that has a huge payoff in terms of what it can do for our society and our economy,” he said.
A June 18 press release from Arizona Commission on the Arts said the money is a one-time appropriation that will come from the interest earned from the rainy day fund. The money is in addition to the $1.4 million the commission will already receive from the state budget. It will go to the grant program for arts organizations across the state and won’t be used for agency operations. Specifically the money will go to programs that best prioritize fiscal ingenuity and encourage broad participation, and to make sure that the state’s diversity and evolving demographics are represented through the arts, said Casey Blake, communication and research director at Arizona Commission on the Arts. She added that this will be the first time in five years the state arts budget will not decrease.
Rusty Foley, executive director of Arizona Citizens for the Arts and Arizona Action for the Arts, said the additional money is a sign that the Legislature is recognizing the economic contribution that arts make to the state and the enormous role they play in helping to rebuild our economy.
“We think it’s a good sign of the times,” she said.