Arts advocate says the arts are a linchpin of urban development

Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, has more
than 38 years of experience in the arts industry more than can fit into any one talk or
interview.
Tom Katzenmeyr, president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council, will guide a conversation
with Lynch at 7 pm tonight (Wednesday April 30) at the Cultural Arts Center, 139 W. Main St.
Lynch, 64, also will take part in a discussion at noon Thursday (May 1) in the centers
weekly Conversations amp; Coffee series.
Lynch is the preeminent arts leader and advocate in the United States and we are delighted
to have the opportunity to show him Columbus' vibrant and growing arts scene, Katzenmeyer said.
His vision of the arts aligns with ours--that arts and culture are inherently valuable to a
community's quality of life and economic prosperity.
The council and the center are sponsoring Lynch's visit Wednesday through Friday to Columbus
because of his expertise as the leader for many years of Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit
organization based in Washington, DC that seeks to advance the arts and arts education.
Here are more questions and answers with Lynch, who had more to say than could fit into my
interview with him that ran in Tuesday's Life amp; Arts section.
Q What's the biggest issue you'll address in Columbus?
A I'll be talking about a combination of the jobs and economic value of the arts in America,
and the broader connections and transformative value of the arts in America.

Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts
Q The Greater Columbus Arts Council and Experience Columbus, the city's
visitors bureau, have forged partnerships to to promote the arts as a key part of what makes the
city attractive to tourists. How common is that pattern around the country?
A Thirty years ago, it's something that happened almost not at all, but over the past couple
of decades, (such groups) have been connecting more. Now it's very much part of the tourism agenda
and arts agenda.
We in the arts still need to do a better job pointing out where art is at play as a
destination.
Q The arts helped fuel the growth of the Short North, which has become
nationally recognized as a prime example of neighborhood transformation. Now it's starting to
happen in Franklinton. How much is that happening elsewhere?
A I see it both by design, through a city's community plan with cultural districts and
investments, and I also see it organically happening when artists, arts groups, galleries and
theaters come into a particular community to set up shop. Then the cafes and other types of stores
follow.
Q Columbus is starting to receive more national press and appearing on
more top lists as a foodie city or for its fashion design. When you travel around the country, do
you hear any buzz about us?
A People who have been there think it's a good place to live. The combination of services and
arts amenities also give it a reputation as a good place for businesses. I don't hear as much about
it being a huge tourist destination. Most cities are talking about themselves as good tourist
destinations, so I wouldn't necessarily hear elsewhere about Columbus.
Q With one of the largest populations of college students in the
country Columbus is struggling to keep more talent here after graduation. How can the arts help
retain young adults?
A The arts help a lot, but a lot of cities are trying to overcome this exact brain-drain
phenomenon. Des Moines, Iowa, and other cities have seen the need to put in cultural and social
amenities; the corporate headquarters want young folk to stay, work and have a life there.
But you have to invest in amenities that young people want such as an after-hours cocktail
event that allows young people to socialize at an art museum. But they also want not just to enjoy
themselves but meet people of other ages meet leaders for upward mobility. That kind of
connectivity becomes very important.
Q Arts education, for children and teen-agers, is facing greater limits
of time and money in the schools. What do you foresee as the long-term consequences of such
limits? And does arts education pay any measurable long-term dividends in terms of making a
city more desirable to live and to visit?
A The number-one thing that business in America says it wants is creativity in the
21st-century worker. Not math skills, not verbal skills, but creativity. The number-one thing that
superintendents of schools say creates creativity is arts in the schools. So investment in the arts
has a big payoff for the kinds of workers that businesses want and need.
A second payoff is that art becomes a tool that keeps people in schools. It helps kids after
school who have trouble or are at risk to get in trouble or run-ins with the law. When they have
arts in an after-school program, there's less of that.
One of the problems, from a national study done a few years ago by the Department of
Education on the availability of education, shows that kids in richer areas are getting arts
education and kids in poorer areas are not. That compelled Arne Duncan (the federal education
secretary) to say arts education in America has become a civil-rights issue.
Q You played in a rock band in high school, and later in a soul band in
the Boston area and an Irish band in Amherst, Mass. What does music and the arts mean personally to
you?
A That was a wonderful part of my life, but music wasn't going to be my career. I wasn't good
enough. But every day, I use music and the arts to gather my thoughts. And every night I come home
and play something on the piano and guitar. It's a combination of relaxation and introspection, a
way to process the day.
And since 1978, at our annual (Americans for the Arts) conference, there's been a jam session
one night where people come together to play music. I always participate in that. It's wonderful to
connect with other people through the arts.

IF YOU GO
Robert A. Lynch will speak at 7 pm Wednesday April 30 and noon Thursday May 1 at
the Cultural Arts Center, 139 W. Main St.
Admission is free, but seating is limited. Reservations are required at
www.culturalartscenteronline.org
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