The impact of the arts is more than just economic

Published 7:01 am Sunday, March 29, 2015

The positive economic impact artistic activities can bring to our community is only one of numerous benefits.

These additional benefits are fully described in the research study, “Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate About the Benefits of the Arts” by Kevin F. McCarthy, Elizabeth H. Ondaatje, Laura Zakaras, and Arthur Brooks.

They found participating in art creation in any form, like taking an arts class at the Austin ArtWorks Center or playing in a performing arts group like the Austin Symphony Orchestra, can help build a sense of community identity and trust through the social bonds that are built during the process.

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Although these connections can be developed through other activities, one can argue they are more easily made through artistic activities due to the personal nature of creative expression and the inherently communicative nature of the arts.

Creative expression can also be an effective way to preserve and promote our community’s cultural heritage, like celebrating the arts cultivated in Austin, which was the primary purpose in founding the Austin ArtWorks Festival.

Artistic activities also make it possible to bring different groups together and form connections between them, which can lead to greater capacity for collective action and, eventually community revitalization. This can be seen through the creation of the Austin ArtWorks Center, which has helped revitalize downtown Austin.

There are also more personal benefits created through the arts. These benefits include experiencing pleasure through aesthetic satisfaction, expanding capacity for empathy, cognitive growth, creating social bonds, and building a shared meaning. Researchers found that these more personal benefits are why people participate in the arts.

They participate in the creation, being an audience member, volunteering and financially supporting because they get pleasure that they can’t get anywhere else. Having a positive economic impact on our community is amazing, but it would not be possible without the more personal benefits that entice people to participate in the first place.

Discover these benefits for yourself by participating in all the artistic activities Austin has to offer.

Visit for the latest information on the upcoming events and classes.

The Austin Area Commission for the Arts would also like to hear about your artistic experiences and the impact they have had on your life.

Please stop into the Austin ArtWorks Center, email us at, or fill out the form on our website to share your story.