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Economic Education in the Arts?
Our NAMTA Palette gave us the argument that will soon be put forward in the debate for Federal funding of the arts. The piece, “Government Funding Cheapens the Art” written by the Foundation for Economic Education is similar to arguments shared by other organizations, including the Cato Institute, suggesting the elimination of the NEA (152M), NEH (155M), Public Broadcasting (485M) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (231M) amongst the 62 agencies and programs suggested for cuts in the new proposed budget.
The view of the FEE is that the arts don’t require any government funding and that the NEA is cheating tax payers. Their viewpoint is that if a product is marketable, then it can be successfully produced and supported without any funds other than from a willing buyer to a willing seller. The free market should determine what is produced and what is not. Government and potentially any other private donation to the arts and/or to artists is simply taking that resource away from something else they could have paid for.
We could give so many other reasons to support the arts, starting with what is the most important, but often most trivialized in this debate – the value of the arts to inspire us, to lift us up, to understand the power of the human potential. But let’s dismiss this as ‘trivial’ in this argument. Let’s also dismiss the proven value of the arts in education to elevate student performance, to allow for improved socialization, to create the employees of the future that businesses crave who are creative, innovative and problem solvers. Let’s dismiss the value of the arts to heal, to work with the elderly, the infirmed, to assist our veterans over the trauma of their service. Let’s dismiss any of the arguments that have any social context at all and simply make this about dollars and cents.
Here’s the top line numbers from the 2010 Arts & Economic Prosperity study. The creative industries have created over 4 million jobs. The estimated revenue to local governments is over 6 billion dollars. The estimated revenue to state governments is over 6.5 billion dollars. The estimated federal income tax revenue collected from the arts and participation in the arts is over 9.5 billion dollars. Total revenue to government collected from the arts community is 22 billion dollars. Into the general economy, the non-profit arts have accounted for over $61 billion dollars. The non-profit arts are employers, producers, consumers and key promotors of their communities and cities and a significant driver of economic development and tourism.
Audiences attending arts events pump in additional monies for local businesses – restaurants, parking garages, hotels and retail stores. On a national level these audiences provide $71 billion dollars of added revenue for their local communities. Supporting the arts is an incredibly sound investment. Finally, the “Bureau of Economic Analysis calculated that the arts and culture sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product at 4.2%, which amounts to an impressive $729 billion”. This is a contribution greater to the economy than tourism.
It is estimated that the NEA monies provided to groups in every congressional district across this country is able to leverage another 9 dollars in private monies. Organizations receiving the prestigious NEA award are able to use this to go to other contributors for support. Because of the NEA, areas of the country which were arts deserts are now being served. Through NEA support, over 20 million people were able to attend NEA supported events. Over 300 million people were able to view supported events via TV, Cable and Radio. The NEA budget, which is $148 million, equates to .47 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. This equates to .004% of our Federal budget. I’d suggest that the NEA’s monies, for all its potential faults, are quite well spent with an incredible ROI compared to any other government program. http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/research-studies-publications/americans-for-the-arts-publications/research-reports
As an industry that is involved first-hand in the arts, which depends upon artists and the arts community for its livelihood, we absolutely understand the value of the arts in all of its contexts and not simply an economic one. I can’t think of one retailer, distributor, manufacturer or publisher who has not been asked to give support to the amazing artists in our communities. We know personally the precarious situation many of our arts organizations work in. It is vital that as an industry we continue to advocate for greater support for the arts. Write to your local Legislator and add your support for the continued funding of our Federal Art Agencies. Take a stand on the “CREATE Act” put forward by Senator Udall to allow artists many of the same opportunities that small entrepreneurs already enjoy. https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/news/press-releases/udall-introduces-create-act-to-support-arts-businesses-jobs-in-the-creative-economy
How to Stay on Top of Store Expenditures
Sticking to a budget is something every business person struggles with. We do, too. Here are some of the little tricks we rely on to keep on track, cut costs, and increase our bottom line:
• Take a negotiations course. Are you really getting the best price on everything that you buy for the store? If you’re not sure, a course on the art of negotiation can help. Take a class at your community college, online, or download podcasts so you can learn new skills on your drive to and from the store.
• Set non-negotiable budgets for every area of the store. Go through the list of expenditures you had in 2016 and review how much you spent in each category. Now, use your good judgment to choose an arbitrary figure that will become your 2017 budget. Let everyone who buys anything for the store know that this dollar amount is all the money there is to spend. Period. We’re willing to bet that each month you will be at or under budget. We always are.
• Carefully check incoming invoices and statements to make sure they are correct. Hold everyone accountable for any monies that are reimbursed. Insist on receipts for travel, samples purchased, mileage, entertainment, and other miscellaneous expenses.
• Get a scale and weigh the packages that are delivered to your store. Check to see how much it would cost you to return the package to the sender, and then review the invoice to make sure you were charged the correct amount.
Those little overages add up, as do the refunds you are entitled to when a UPS or FedEx shipment is late. Refund Retriever is a company that automatically detects issues with your shipments, applies for refunds, and verifies that those refunds are credited back to your account. Find out more at http://www.refundretriever.com
• Pay Yourself First. It’s easy to continue to spend on your store until all your money for the month is gone, sometimes before you’ve had a chance to pay yourself. Consider yourself a critical supplier and pay your invoice first. Do this even when you know you can’t cash the check because it’s an important mindset to develop. Take it a step further and put away 10 percent for a rainy day. Or for your retirement.
• Never mix business and personal funds because it can lead to financial nightmares. Make sure you have one account for your personal finances and another for your business finances.
• Shop for lower interest rates. Sort through the piles of pre-approved credit card offers you receive and look for one that offers a lower interest rate than what you are currently paying. Call your current company, tell them you’ve received a lower rate offer, and ask for a rate reduction. If they are eager to keep your business, they will likely say yes. Then smile and ask them to waive the annual fee.
• Open a line of credit with your bank. You don’t want to have to rely on credit card advances when you need extra cash. Those additional fees, coupled with the higher interest rates credit card companies charge, can really add up. A retailer we know habitually borrows $2,000 for 30 days and then pays it back before the note is due. He has built a stellar reputation and a fantastic relationship with his bank.
• Shop your associations. NAMTA, for example, offers special member discounts on everything from freight management to office supplies. Log on to the “members only” sections of your associations to see what you’ve been missing.
• Little dollars can add up to big savings. We saved a bundle when we opted not to renew the service contracts on some office equipment. Most came with one to three year warranties anyway, so even when they were out of warranty and needed servicing, it usually wasn’t enough to pay for the cost of the service contract. The same goes for subscriptions to magazines and online programs with yearly contracts that you only use once.
It’s your money so be tough on how you spend it. When you adopt a cost-cutting mindset you’ll cut down on all non-profit-producing costs and you’ll have more money for the things you really need, when you need them.
Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the US. You can learn more at www.KizerandBender.com.
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Advocating for the Arts
Art access is linked to better health, safety, and education in lower-income neighborhoods. These include a 14% decrease in indicted investigations of child abuse and neglect, an 18% decrease in felony crime rate and also a 17-18% increase in the number of students scoring at the highest level on standardized Math and English Tests. from artsy.net Read all the Facts
Thank you to the NAMTA Members from the following companies who have graciously offered to participate as mentors in the Mentor Program for retailers:
Bob Ross Incorporated announces that Painter Bob Ross is up for a coveted Shorty Award this year. The big ceremony is Sunday, April 23rd in New York City. You can WATCH LIVE online by subscribing to the Shorty Awards YouTube channel.
The NAMTA staff regularly scours the web for articles and stories that may be of interest to our members . . .