A new report by the Knight Foundation and Urban Institute gives additional data and research to what many of us know intuitively to be true: the arts bind us to our communities and improve our quality of life.

At a time when many of us are concerned about Philadelphia’s ability to retain and attract people (after peaking at more than 2 million in 1950, we consistently lost population until 2007), this report reminds us to not overlook the role that the arts can play in fostering a sense of attachment to a city. The arts encourage people to be invested in the city’s welfare and help build more cohesive, democratic places. By contrast, population loss hurts everyone – from a smaller tax base to provide city services, to a smaller talent pool to help organizations grow.

The arts can also serve as a tool to create attachment to companies. This month, we highlight Meridian Bank, which supports the nonprofit Art Trust with free gallery space within its bank branch in West Chester. There, customers are exposed to contemporary art and artists find new audiences in the same place. This project exemplifies the virtuous cycle between the arts, business, and communities that strengthens all three.

At the Chamber, a Recharge & Recovery Taskforce with a subcommittee dedicated to Arts & Culture, Tourism, and Hospitality is finalizing its recommendations for short-term actions to improve the local economy and address the need for greater social equity in the wake of COVID-19. We look forward to these new ideas and expect that investment in the arts will pay dividends for the city in ways we always knew and have yet to imagine.


Diana Lind
Executive Director
Arts + Business Council

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