SAU presents forum Tuesday: ‘Are the Arts Necessary in a Depressed Economy?’

The Southern Arkansas University Art Department will host an event, ‘Are the Arts Necessary in a Depressed Economy,’ 2-4 p.m., Tues., April 3, in the Foundation Hall of the Donald W. Reynolds Center. 
The event will discuss three professional artists’ process and contribution to overall economy.
According to SAU’s assistant professor of art and design Dan May, “The National Governor’s Conference did a study on the arts contribution to overall economy of cities and states. In many large metropolitan areas, they will get tax subsidies for sports complexes and things like that. In fact, the city of Las Angeles, Calif., is trying to create a new sports complex that may cost between $250 million and a $1,000,000,000. With these tax subsidies, what has been found out in studies is that there is no net benefit for building these sports facilities.”
He added that he was not anti-sports. He said that he is a big sports fan.
May said, “This study continued during the Beijing Olympics. It was discovered that the country of China spent billions of dollars trying to promote the Olympics.They found out after this event was over with that tourism was generally flat in the economy for Beijing. The tourists who usually traveled to Beijing stayed home. The Olympics crowded out the regular tourists. The money that would have been spent in restaurants and in shops on t-shirts and souvenirs, wasn’t spent in those shops, it was spent at the Olympic Stadium. The same thing occurs after a sporting event. People usually spend their money at the event. They don’t go out to restaurants or go shopping after the event. They generally spend their money right there.”
He said when there is a theater event, a musical event or an art show or an opening, people will go to that event and then stay in the downtown areas shopping and dining. He stated the people would go out to eat, they would have something to drink, and they may even buy products related to the event.
May said, “There have been studies that show that in sports related events, people argue that for every dollar spent at a sporting event, there will be two dollars will be spent outside the event. Economic studies have shown that argument is stretching the truth quite a bit. But, they also found when there is an art event,$32 are generated outside the event that they can track. Because generally when someone goes out to eat, there is $15 per person they will spend. With two people, that is $30 right there.”
Designers generate revenue by creating desire, May said.
“People won’t buy something unless they think it looks cool or hip,” he said. “That’s the arts direct impact on society. A lot of people don’t realize that art and design isn’t just related to galleries and decorations, it’s also related to the design of things and how people access them. I worked in license merchandise 20 years prior to coming to Southern Arkansas University, just four years ago. I did things for John Lennon, Eric Clapton, the movie Kill Bill and a variety of other things. Most of the money that musical bands make is based on merchandise that is directly designed by artists. They don’t make a lot of money on tour anymore. The money that they get is from the designs of their merchandise by artists.”
He said people don’t understand the huge impact that art and design has on society.
“When schools or taxes are impacted, the first thing they cut are the arts,” May stated. “They feel like they don’t have any worth. They feel like it is just decorations. They think they will find someone to fill the void because artist simply love doing what they are doing. Artists, just like anyone else, are in the business for the money. They aren’t doing it because they love to do it. They might like to do it, which is an added extra value, but they do it to make money.”
May said he often tells his students a story about Michelangelo being commissioned to make a bust for a banker in Florence.
“When the banker received the bust, he critiqued it saying that it didn’t look like him, and he thought he was being over charged for it,” May said, adding, “Michelangelo took the bust and threw it out the window onto the city streets below. The banker was devastated and asked Michelangelo why did he do that. Michelangelo said he threw it out because the banker obviously didn’t have any value for art. The banker said he needed Michelangelo to make him another one. Michelangelo told the banker that it was now going to cost him double.”
May said that’s generally what people do when it comes to the arts: they give low value, or they think it’s decoration.
“It’s rarely decoration,” he said. “The only decorations that you see are perceived in people’s minds. It’s never, ever about decoration. It’s about commerce, or it’s about truth. That’s what this forum will help explain to people.”
He stated that taxes are a patriotic duty that citizens owe to the investment of their children. He said we should want to invest into a program that will make their future a better place.
The forum’s featured speakers are Timothy Goodman, Youngran Ryu and Chris Cortez.
Information on each artists’ background could be found in the event’s pamphlet:
• Goodman is a designer, illustrator and an art director. More recently he worked in-house at Apple, Inc. in California, where he helped integrate Apple’s visual language both domestically and internationally. Previously, he was a senior designer with the experiential design firm COLLINS: in New York City, N.Y., where he worked for clients such as CNN and Microsoft. Goodman enjoys doing a variety of illustration work that has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, the cover of Time magazine and a mural for the Ace Hotel. He has won awards from most major design annuals and publications, including Print’s “New Visual Artist” issue and the Art Directors Club “Young Guns” award. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, N.Y., where he now teaches.
• Ryu is the senior designer at Nike, Inc., in Portland, Ore. She received her bachelor’s of fine arts degree in 1992 from Kyoung Gi University with a dual major in graphic design and education. In Korea, she won “Best Honored in Graphic Design.” In 2004, she received her master’s of fine arts degree in graphic design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Calif. In 2003, some of her works were selected and displayed at the Academy of Art University. In 2004, she made the Academy of Art University’s President’s Honor List.
• Cortex is a multi-disciplinary designer, whose innate curiosity and intuition has compelled him to explore new ways of thinking and has served to define his work philosophy and approach. The foundation of Chris’ work is rooted in non-verbal communication and blends the languages of fashion, graphic design, architecture, music and photography. By combining these disciplines with an eager pursuit of delivering insightful solutions, his work is both timeless and ahead of the curve. His specialties are innovation, consumer experience and return of interest.

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