It is not an easy time to be a member of the arts community, no matter what role each of us plays in it. On a personal level, one's colleagues all talk of funding difficulties, slow art sales, diminished public support. In the press, there are frequent reports of slashed funding for the arts and culture; today, I was reading that the Prado Museum in Madrid, flagship of Spain's museums, has had its Government support cut by six million euros and counting. Hard times... but at least the Prado is fighting back. They are now going to open seven days a week, something to celebrate.
Yet at the same time, I stumbled on a report on today's HuffPost Detroit of a report released about the impact of the arts and culture on Michigan's economy which makes one think. Some 221 arts organisations in Michigan shared their economic data to help formulate the Michigan Cultural Data Project, which analyses, on an on-going and ever-wider basis, what effect the arts have on this American state's economy. The figures are eloquent - for every dollar spent by the Michigan State on arts and culture, five-one ($51) dollars are returned to the state economy. That is quite a return.
That is the sort of message that all governments need to hear. Europeans seem more receptive to such information because they have always been keenly aware of tourist returns on investment in their cultural riches. Americans, on the whole, seem a little less aware of the huge impact that a vibrant arts scene can have - hence the importance of such information as that generated in Michigan. Even in today's less than cheery financial news coming out of Davos, Switzerland, there are ways to enhance the quality of our lives in terms of arts and culture.