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BBJ Op-ed by Joe Spaulding & Paul Guzzi: Arts Funding is Critical to Develop Leaders

Posted 22 July 2016 12:00 AM by Joe Spaulding and Paul Guzzi

On Friday, July 22, 2016, the Boston Business Journal ran an opinion piece on the importance of preserving arts funding authored by Citi Performing Arts Center President & CEO Joe Spaulding and Board Chair Paul Guzzi.

The op-ed can be found here and below:

ViewPoint: Arts funding is critical to develop leaders

Jul 22, 2016

Recently, there has been much debate at the State House about Gov. Baker’s proposal to cut critical arts funding — funding used to support organizations like ours and to fuel the broader arts and cultural community. The industry is not only a key driver of our state economy, generating more than $1 billion in annual spending, but it also promotes creativity within our workforce while making important investments in developing a future generation of culturally minded thinkers, doers and creators. Simply put: preserving funding for organizations like the Massachusetts Cultural Council helps local arts nonprofits fulfill their missions.

At Citi Performing Arts Center, we rely on grants and partnerships to carry out our mission to provide arts education in underserved Greater Boston communities. This summer, for example, we are employing 61 culturally and racially diverse teens from 13 Boston and Everett neighborhoods and 30 different high schools through our City Spotlights Leadership Program. Many studies show that CEOs of all industries have identified creativity as a core competency for the future, and we’re working to fuel the creative spark within these young leaders. This unique, seven-week employment program uses arts training to help participants prepare for college and careers, develop 21st century job skills, and become leaders in their schools and communities.

As one of the region’s leading nonprofit performing arts institutions and a driver of our creative economy, we feel a responsibility to build a new generation of visionary thinkers and civic innovators. With the support of our funders and partners, City Spotlights not only provides teens with meaningful job and leadership training, but it also allows them to earn an income, contribute to their family’s livelihood, find their creative voices, and ultimately lay the foundation for a successful future.

To date, City Spotlights has directly reached more than 240 teens and families in Greater Boston. Summer after summer, we see shy, introverted teens blossom into confident, outspoken leaders. We’ve seen teens who once struggled in school find motivation and get into college. We’ve watched teens who started as complete strangers become a family and a network of support for one another. Many participants have been involved in City Spotlights for several years now, and we’ve heard countless stories of how this program has saved lives, inspired a dream, opened eyes to new possibilities, and been a safe zone, both physically and creatively.

Without financial support from foundations, corporate donors, government and generous individuals, we would not be able to facilitate this important arts-employment program every summer, depriving teens of the opportunity to grow as individuals and leaders in a safe, collaborative and creative environment. Through live performance and education initiatives, the arts give all of us the ability to express ourselves, to connect with our community, and to remain a civilized society. We strongly urge the governor and the Legislature to make a statement about the importance of our cultural community by preserving arts funding today.

Josiah A. Spaulding Jr. is president and CEO of Citi Performing Arts Center, andPaul Guzzi is board chairman of Citi Performing Arts Center and former president and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

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