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Pa. bipartisan caucus calls for increased investment in the arts

A marquee for a theater in downtown Pittsburgh.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

The bipartisan Arts and Culture Caucus is celebrating artists while calling for increased investments in the arts.

They say any extra money from the state can boost the economy.

The caucus, chaired by Sens. Pat Stefano, R-Bedford, and Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, and Reps. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, and R. Lee James, R- Venango, held an arts advocacy day with artists Tuesday calling for a more than 50% increase in arts funding.

“Support for the arts provides an opportunity for economic growth, as the arts touch multiple industries across the commonwealth” Stefano said in a statement. “An investment in local art is an investment in our local businesses, so funding creative endeavors propels our economy to thrive.”

Patty Wilson Aden, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, concurred with Stefano.

“While we talk about how arts warms our soul,” she said, “we also talk about economic impact. We talk about employment, but we also talk about community change. And that community change is very, very real.”

Since 2015, the arts have received a flat $9.59 million per year in grants.

Pennsylvania ranks 33rd in arts funding at $0.82 per resident, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

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This pales in comparison to all neighboring states except West Virginia.

A $15 million investment in the arts can bring the rank up to 26th and increase the per capita spending to $1.16.

The arts community hit a lull during the pandemic as people couldn’t go to museums or shows.

Now that it is over, museum attendance is returning to normal, but live theater hasn’t.

“These theaters are looking around and looking for support,” Wilson Aden said. “We’re doing the creative work to come up with new business models, but we can’t do this alone. And this is why we’re here today. We cannot do this alone.”