Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Arts Business or Not?

There seems to be a lot of focus on the arts and the local arts community in the current St. Pete election.

On one hand the arts community talks about what an economic driver the arts are for St. Petersburg. You hear terms from the current Mayor Bill Foster about heads in beds and the amount of arts tourism in town. St. Pete is heralded as the top arts destination for Cities with a population of under 500,000.

You only need to wait a second or two and the next comment is all about how we, the public, have to fund these art business to keep this whole circle or arts tourism and this enormous art driven economic engine running.

I must be missing something.

If the arts are producing all of this money in terms of tourism why are the arts folks so anxious to get their hands into the public pie?

Who is actually benefitting from all of those tourists the arts community bring in? Maybe they should be coughing up some of their profits to support the "arts industry" that feeds them customers.

How about an arts bed tax on all of St. Pete's lodging and dining establishments of say .1% to support the arts?

The art business has always been tough, all small business these days is extremely difficult , but how do we justify providing public support to the arts community when we deny public support to the pizza community?

I hear all the talk about how the arts improves the quality of life, by my question is whose quality of life?

I fail to see how subsidizing the arts community directly or indirectly  helps midtown, Childs Park or significant job creation.

In my time in the private sector, I can't recall a facility development or recruitment where the arts were a significant factor in the decision. Schools however always were.

I am happy that St. Pete is considered the number one arts destination in its category, but I would be a lot happier if St. Pete had the lowest crime and/or unemployment rates or was number one in high school graduation. 

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