Mayors and design and development experts from across the country convened in Chicago last month for the
National Summit on City Design to identify challenges, opportunities and funding sources for cities that work well. Among their conclusions were the importance of the arts in creating a vibrant economy:
“Mayors understand that the arts mean business,” stated Conference of Mayors President Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz. “The nonprofit arts sector alone generates over $166 billion annually in economic activity. An important element to making our cities places to attract and grow businesses, tourism, and jobs is for a community to maintain good urban design.
And in his keynote address, National Endowment for the Arts NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman expressed the importance of the arts in a vibrant economy, “Artists are entrepreneurs, small businessmen all, great place-makers and community builders. Bring artists into the center of town and that town changes profoundly. We know now that people do not migrate to businesses. It is businesses that will move to where they can find a skilled, motivated, educated workforce. And what does that workforce look for? In survey after survey, the answer is education and culture.”
Mayor Richard Daley, who helped transform Chicago with green spaces, artwork and notable buildings during his 22 years in office, was honored by the conference as a leader in urban design during an annual meeting of the nation’s mayors.
In receiving the honor, Mayor Daley said, “Artists will define us of who we are in this century and I thank them for it.”