I'm delving a little bit more these days into the issue of arts advocacy and I'm slowly working though a public conversation from March 7-11, 2005: "Is There a Better Case for the Arts?" This is a series of blog posts by 11 prominent people in the arts over the course of a week. (Thanks to modern technology for the forum to hold an interactive discussion with such interesting and geographically diverse thinkers!)
This conversation was in response to the RAND study "Gifts of the Muse." (The summary the study is here, but it also has links to download the entire 104-page study as a pdf document or to purchase a published copy.) I'll be working my way through the RAND study as well and I'll keep you posted on any interesting things that come out of it. (Apparently, I'm the first one at Harvard University to ever check out this copy!)
Just as a teaser of information, the RAND study--and, consequently, the conversation--cover a very broad range of benefits to the arts within the dichotomy of "instrumental" and "intrinsic" benefits to the arts and also relating the benefits to "private" benefits (those that are primarily of value to individuals) and "public" benefits (of value to communities of people or societies as a whole). So it addresses rationales from improved test scores to pleasure and economic growth to expression of communal meaning. I'm very interested to see how this study and the conversation (and also readers comments!) play out and what this pushes me to think about!