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The Cost and True Value of the Arts in North Carolina

In the past few months, we’ve passed along several stories about how arts and culture benefit local economies. The North Carolina Arts Council released a study in June; while just last week the Arts Council announced SmART Initiatives for five North Carolina counties.

A recent editorial in the Raleigh News & Observer addresses this same issue. Benjamin Filene, the director of public history and an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, says that viewing the arts as something “extraneous,” as many lawmakers seem to want to do, is extremely shortsighted. Not only that, but the cost per taxpayer is minimal.

The amount appropriated to the Department of Cultural Resources—less than $61 million—is three tenths of 1 percent of the state’s $20.2 billion budget for 2012-13. A mere $6.30 per person per year supports 27 historic sites; seven history museums; the State Library, the State Archives; the state divisions of Historical Publications, Archaeology, Genealogy, and Historic Preservation; the N.C. Symphony; the N.C. Arts Council; and the N.C. Museum of Art.

Despite recent cuts, the arts in North Carolina continue to be under siege. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it’s always a good idea to let your state representatives know how you feel.