The Arts: Meaningful Impact On Youth and Community

The impact of the arts on youth and communities is profound and has been extensively studied. A recently released study from Americans for the Arts documents the economic and social contributions of arts and culture on communities across the United States. 

Key statistics highlighting the impact that vibrant arts and cultural programming has on communities and students include:

Youth Engagement and Development

  • Academic Achievement: Students highly engaged in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement. (Source: National Endowment for the Arts)
  • Improved Test Scores: High school students participating in arts programs score an average of 100 points higher on the SATs than their peers with low arts involvement. (Source: The College Board)
  • Increased Graduation Rates: Students with four years of arts or music classes in high school are more likely to graduate and pursue higher education. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics)
  • Social Skills: Participation in the arts helps youth develop social and emotional skills, including teamwork, empathy, and self-expression. (Source: Arts Education Partnership)

Community Impact

  • Economic Contribution: The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates over $166 billion in economic activity annually and supports 4.6 million jobs. (Source: Americans for the Arts)
  • Tourism and Revenue: Cultural tourism, driven by arts and cultural attractions, contributes to local economies, with visitors spending money on accommodations, dining, and shopping. (Source: U.S. Travel Association)
  • Property Values: Proximity to arts organizations and cultural amenities can increase property values in a community. (Source: Journal of Cultural Economics)
  • Civic Engagement: Arts participation is associated with higher levels of community involvement, volunteering, and voting. (Source: National Endowment for the Arts)
  • Crime Reduction: Communities with strong arts programs often experience reduced crime rates, particularly in urban areas. (Source: The Urban Institute)
  • Social Cohesion: The arts promote social cohesion by bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to engage in creative and cultural activities. (Source: Brookings Institution)
  • Health and Well-being: Arts programs in communities can improve overall well-being, reduce stress, and enhance mental health. (Source: World Health Organization)

Cultural Diversity and Inclusion

  • Diverse Representation: The arts play a crucial role in representing and celebrating cultural diversity, fostering inclusivity and understanding among different communities. (Source: National Assembly of State Arts Agencies)
  • Youth Empowerment: Arts programs empower young individuals to explore their cultural identities, preserve traditions, and express their unique voices. (Source: National Endowment for the Arts)
  • Accessible Education: Arts programs promote equal access to education and cultural experiences, bridging gaps and fostering a sense of belonging. (Source: Arts Education Partnership)
  • Creative Economy: Cultural diversity is integral to the creative economy, driving innovation and contributing to the vitality of communities. (Source: UNESCO)

These statistics underscore the multifaceted benefits of the arts for youth and communities, from educational and social development to economic and cultural enrichment. Investing in arts and cultural programs has a lasting impact on individuals and the places they call home.


Tito’s Cocktails for Charity to Support the Arts Council

Tito’s Vodka is sharing Tito’s Love with the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana for the holiday season. Visit some local favorites, Chasers, Bokeh Lounge, or Walton’s, enjoy a Tito’s Merry Mule or Cause-Mo, and support the Arts Council! 

For each Tito’s Merry Mule and Cause-Mo purchased at the designated venues between November 20 and December 31, a $1 donation will be made to the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana (up to $1000). 

Cheers to enjoying great cocktails and giving back to the local arts community!

The mission of the Arts Council: Enhancing quality of life and supporting economic development through advocacy and promotion of the arts, arts organizations, and arts education in southwestern Indiana.

Andrea Adams: Thisday and Thatday

I’ve seen the memes about the days of the week being irrelevant during the stay at home order, and that only Thisday and Thatday exist now. At first, I resisted the idea of complete anarchy of time. I tried to make sure my socks matched every work day and that I didn’t have too much wine at dinner before Friday.

I remember even putting on makeup for my first couple of Zoom calls. Oh, Past Andrea. So naive, so optimistic. Adorable. 

Today, on this Thisday, I am barefoot, and I have abandoned my makeshift desk in the kitchen to stay on my bed (it’s made at least) and work from the Chromebook. I do plan to have a couple of glasses of wine after dinner this evening, as I am attending a recreational Zoom event. I probably won’t even brush my hair for it. Structure and foundation have crumbled for me, someone who has realized lately how much she thrives on timelines and schedules. It was fun to throw routine to the wayside at first. I can wake up after 7:30 a.m.? I don’t need to shower until after lunch? I can eat a bowl of Doritos in bed at 10:30 a.m.? And don’t get me started on what “bedtime” means anymore. 

The novelty is wearing off. I can no longer use seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race as a clock (I reserve the right to reconsider this when I get to the All Stars seasons). Since time can’t be measured by work hours and weekends off anymore, it’s my mission to find a way to tally mark the days creatively. On Thisday, I draw cartoons of my breakfast and lunch chatting each other up. Thatdays are Crazy Makeup and Costume Days. Tomorrow is Latin Music Day (which may or may not also involve costumes). And Today is obviously Writing the Weekly Blog Day. The new normal is a different normal, and we might as well use these moments alone to make it weird and interesting. 

Andrea Adams is the Gallery Director at the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana.

Published April 20, 2020

33 & 1/3: ‘American Beauty’ & ‘New Speedway Boogie’

33 & 1/3 is a weekly column looking back at the albums and songs of 1970 to coincide with the Arts Council’s 50th anniversary. Community Director Zach Evans will write about one album (33) and one song (1/3) from 50 years ago.

Most musicians and bands don’t release two albums in the same year these days.

The industry is such that insiders say bands really shouldn’t put out full albums every year — the idea is to release singles and smaller releases more regularly to feed the content beast.

But in 1970, there were several acts who released two albums in a year. Black Sabbath released two of the most important albums in metal history in 1970 with “Black Sabbath” and “Paranoid” and Funkadelic released “Funkadelic” and “Free Your Mind .. and Your Ass Will Follow.”

Here’s a good list of other double releases in 1970 (I’m probably missing a few):
• Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Cosmo’s Factory” and “Pendulum”
• King Crimson – “The Wake of Poseidon” and “Lizard”
• Aretha Franklin – “This Girl’s in Love With You” and “Sprit in the Dark”
• Elton John – “Elton John” and “Tumbleweed Connection”

The most interesting double release in 1970 came from a band’s whose following and legacy is not largely connected to their studio releases: The Grateful Dead, which released “Workingman’s Dead” and “American Beauty” four months apart in 1970.

Both albums are a rich chapter in the Dead history, because the pair were a pivot from the electric kool-aid psychedelic sounds in the 1960s to an Americana / roots style in 1970. The stylistic switch is even apparent on the album covers, warm browns, greens and sepia tones versus the bright palette “Aoxomoxoa,” their album before “Workingman’s Dead.”

That Path is For Your Steps Alone

American Beauty
The Grateful Dead
Nov. 1, 1970
Stand-out tracks: “Ripple,” “Brokedown Palace,” “Candyman”

As I said, The Grateful Dead aren’t really known for their studio albums. They have a prolific live career: 37,000 songs performed live, 2,300 concerts, 450 unique songs, 300 cities and 30 years of touring. That’s just for the original Grateful Dead lineup and doesn’t include the subsequent spin-offs featuring members of the band, like The Dead or Dead & Co.

But if you ask most songwriters, musicians, or music fans about the Dead, they’ll probably say they like “American Beauty.” That’s because it’s hard to not appreciate the blending of American folk and rock music, poetic lyrics and woven strings and harmonies — kind of like CSNY, but not.

The album is exquisite, it’s hard to argue that isn’t. But I usually take issue when people say “I really don’t like the Dead, but I did like ‘American Beauty.'” There are differences between the two — the live Dead and the American folk-style studio Dead. But I embrace both deeply. Can’t a guy like a 30 minute Scarlet>Fire jam and a well-crafted 4-minute folk song from the same band?

Onto the actual album. I love the song “Candyman,” because of its slow creepiness and an absolutely beautiful pedal steel guitar solo played through a rotating Leslie speaker by Jerry Garcia.

What makes “American Beauty” so eternal to me is the songwriting marriage of Jerry’s roots-y musical stylings and Robert Hunter’s brilliant lyrics.

Much like the relationship between Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Robert Hunter would write lyrics and Jerry would write the music.

Hunter was a true American poet, with an ability to tap into the cultural psyche and tell us about it. “American Beauty” wasn’t the first album featuring lyrics by Hunter, but to me it’s his finest showcase and the best song on the album is “Ripple.”

“If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?”

The song has lyrics that invokes both Western religion and Eastern poetic style. The third verse, of which Hunter said he was most proud to write, is filled with biblical imagery, with phrases like, “Reach out your hand if your cup be empty / If your cup is full may it be again” and — the favorite line he ever wrote — “Let it be known there is a fountain / That was not made by the hands of men.”

Then there’s the chorus, which is a 17-syllable haiku poem washed in mystery.

“Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow”

Combine that with major key melodies, David Grisman on mandolin, rich harmonies and a sing-a-long ending of la-di-das, and you have one hell of a song.

What a Long Strange Trip it’s Been

Bob Weir recently mentioned on the podcast “Broken Records” in a conversation with Rick Rubin he wished the band had done more work in the studio. I do too. I love the energy and vibe of a well-connected, breathing live performance, but the artistry and intention that comes out in albums is unmatchable.

Jerry has been dead for 25 years and Robert Hunter died last September. In 1970, Rolling Stone reviewer Andy Zwerling said “American Beauty” would be enjoyed for the next 20 years. Jerry has been dead for 25 years and Robert Hunter died last September, but the songs are still loved and played to hundreds of thousands of fans every year (well, not this year) by surviving members in the off-shoot Dead & Co. featuring John Mayer and Oteil Burbridge.

I think it’s deeply appreciated at 50 and will be talked about and listened to for its 100th anniversary.

I Spent a Little Time on the Mountain

New Speedway Boogie
Workingman’s Dead
The Grateful Dead
June 14, 1970

“New Speedway Boogie” will make me noodle dance every time. You know, that stereotypical Dead-head hippy dance? Yeah, that’s all 6’7″ of me when I hear this song live.

I love this song for its groove, for the memories I have with it and for the memories I was hoping to have with it in the future.

I was in a string band called the “Pocket City Pushers” in the early 2010s and “New Speedway Boogie” was one of the first covers we practiced.

I had just performed my first gig as a keyboardist with Calabash in Cincinnati just days before our region began locking down. We played several Dead songs that night. We didn’t perform “New Speedway” but with gigs lined up in the coming weeks and months, I’m sure we would have (if it were a gig they invited to me play).

One day soon, we’ll all be boogying — at least, I hope.

Zach Evans is the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana’s Community Director. When life returns to normal, you can find him performing around town with his band Corduroy OrbisonYou can reach him at [email protected].

Other 33 & 1/3 posts
Kristofferson & My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama
Morrison Hotel & Isolation

Published April 18, 2020.

Anne McKim: Sheltered in Place. Day 32.

First: I miss you. 

We walk for an hour every day. “Taking a walk” is different: it’s a casual, unthinking thing that describes weekend morning trips to the coffee shop and evening strolls. Walking, now – for our quarantined family – is a necessity. I wear a backpack, as if we were hiking, stocked with hand sanitizer and face masks. My children know the drill: Sunscreen, bathroom, shoes with laces (we learned the hard way that sandals, full bladders, and fair skin aren’t ideal for urban exploration).

You can cover a lot of ground in an hour, and living downtown, we have.  Mansions on First Street quickly became boring, and the Greenway is reserved (for us) as “biking only.” We prefer to walk the streets named after presidents, and through the industrial remains of Evansville’s urban core. 

Everything is blooming. 

My husband jokes (only to the children, who already have plenty of fodder for teasing me, but who else can he joke with these days?) that I can’t walk half a block without saying “Oh! Guys! Look at those azaleas [insert any flower/shrub/tree]!” Everything is blooming and lovely, and everyday we leave the house at noon and walk and walk, and see it all. 

We don’t track distance, only time. We MUST walk at least that hour, an arbitrary benchmark that I cling to. It’s too easy, in our collective current state, to feel simultaneously disconnected from the rest of the world and beholden to it. Alienated but also far too intimate. Walking through Evansville connects us to something. Anchors us to something. 

I miss you. I love you.

This is how I try to end all conversations these days. It comes more naturally with some friends than others. (One notoriously unsentimental but very dear friend may stop speaking to me if I don’t stop reminding her that she’s loved.) I miss you and I love you. Saying it connects us, anchors us to a life before sheltering in place, when I didn’t have to miss you, when love was expressed in person. 

Stay well, friends. Read, create, wash your hands and wear a mask. I miss you and I love you. 

Anne McKim is the Executive Director of the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana.

Published April 15, 2020.

Andrea Adams: The art of curating a family

Last week, I opened up about finding moments of creation in small daily acts of art, and it got me thinking about how I view the curation and hanging of exhibits as making my own larger art piece out of many. Arranging 40 unique works of art and making sure nothing is lost or too loud is a task that I certainly ask Anne and Zach to help with every single time. The best moment in hanging a show is when the chaos turns into something cohesive and starts telling a story. It’s a magic that artists are familiar with, I’m sure.

There’s this cat who has been coming around since we’ve been home all the time. She was timid about approaching too close at first, but now (since I started feeding her), she literally will climb the window screen to try to get into my bedroom, presumably to get petted. It’s pretty annoying, but only because I know that I will eventually let her in and then I will have a cat. She’s claimed me as her family and there’s really nothing I can do about it. Did she have a family who was loving her before she started hanging out here? If I start ignoring her, will she go back to them? Will I feel a pang in my heart if I do?

Catherine the Cat

We don’t get to choose what family we start with, but we are certainly at liberty to create or add to one as we learn and love throughout a lifetime. Friends and lovers and coworkers. Ancestors and old high school buddies and artists we admire from afar. Long lost brothers. Pretty calico kitties who sleep on our patio. All these precious and necessary chaotic pieces make a whole and teach us what it means to individualize. It’s a curation project we should never finish because the story we are telling is on-going. When things start making sense, that’s the magic of creating something cohesive.

I feel lucky to be chosen by Catherine the Cat to help her feel safe and loved. I guess her needing me makes me feel that way, too.

Dang it, I have a cat now, don’t I?

Andrea Adams is the Gallery Director for the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana.

Published April 13, 2020