Art Jobs are Jobs, Too

This post, was originally written by Jeffrey E. Salzberg, a lighting designer for theatre, dance, and puppetry troupes in New York City and throughout the United States. It is reprinted here with his permission.

“Recently, I had dinner with some lovely people and the conversation turned, as it so often does these days, to politics and economics.  I mentioned the importance of arts funding, and one of my companions — an artist herself — said something like, “I care about arts funding, too, but jobs are more important.”


It’s time we stopped thinking of ourselves as charity cases.  Arts jobs are no less important just because we make theatre (or music, or sculptures, or ballets, or….) than they would be if we sold cars or built computers — in fact, they have even more impact, proportionally, on our local economies. The arts are huge consumers of materials, which  must be manufactured and transported and, of course, artists and other employees of arts organizations buy the same groceries, clothing, automobiles, and other goods as do those in other occupations.  People who attend arts events are likely to dine out before, and go to bars afterward.  In the United States, more people attend professional arts events than attend professional sports. I’ve seen estimates that every government dollar that goes to arts funding has between six and seven dollars  of economic impact.

I’m writing this in September of 2010.  In 7 weeks, we’ll be electing senators, members of Congress, legislators, and governors.  This is a time when our elected officials — and those who want to be our elected officials — are most likely to listen to us.  Ask…no, demand…that they tell you their positions on arts funding.

Send your opinion to the candidates of your choice.

Let your message be loud and let it be clear: “Arts funding is jobs funding.”

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Jeffrey is right–but while I was nodding my head in agreement about his arguments, I nearly snapped my head off nodding about the upcoming elections. Art is an embarrassment to most politicians, and it’s important we raised our hands to be noticed. And our voices. And, perhaps, our checkbooks.

  2. Bravo. I agree completely. If we remain silent, we get the just deserts of that silence.

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