Photo by Francie Bishop Good
Give to the Arts -
for the Sake of the CommunityBy David Horvitz
My wife, Francie Bishop Good, and I give to the arts.
We give to the arts even though there are so many other needs in the world and in our own back yard. We are well-aware of the high-profile challenges in the world, in the region and in our community. In Broward County, as is common elsewhere, poverty is a big problem. Our public education system is rarely a source of pride. People with low-incomes still get sub-par health care and have housing issues. Homelessness is a problem that doesn’t seem to be getting better. Children continue to be abused, neglected and abandoned – and spousal abuse seems endemic.
I could list a host of other real needs where charitable dollars can and do make a real difference. There are many nonprofit organizations that do extraordinary work in these areas and they all need money.
So, in light of all these problems, why do we choose the arts? It’s something we’ve thought about and talked about a lot. Francie feels in her heart and soul that the arts are an essential part of everyone’s humanity. For her, it’s not about jobs or systems or problem-solving. For her, more than me, it’s about fulfillment, intellectual challenge and taking advantage of our innate gift of creativity.
For me, and this is not unrelated to Francie’s thinking, it’s more about building a healthy community - one that has the energy, the creativity and the spirit to help address all of these other problems. And it has become obvious to me that arts and culture have to be an integral part of any healthy community.
People like to live in healthy communities; businesses locate in healthy communities - and healthy communities are places where people of all incomes, races and religions can achieve their dreams. People of diverse backgrounds interact and learn from one another in healthy communities and the arts are excellent tools for fostering this communication.
There is a universality to the arts, one that crosses race, culture, religious and income boundaries. Everyone can point to something - a song, a painting, a play or a film - where the subject or character or image is completely foreign to our own experience and yet we are moved by it, appreciate it, learn from it and remember it.
We believe that humans are creative by nature. The ability to participate, even as an observer, with visual art, music, performance and dance helps us define and refine our humanity, enabling us to better address all of these other very complicated issues. And finally, not to be underestimated, the arts are job generators. It’s called “the creative economy” and it’s a very important part of our overall economy.
I think most of us can agree that urban vitality requires a cohesive framework of multiple systems and that, without any one of them, the community suffers greatly. A government that functions reasonably effectively is part of this. A nonprofit sector that fills in where government can’t or won’t is a part of this. The strong leadership of the business community is part of this. And a vibrant arts and culture sector that provides opportunities for all of our citizens - including people with low incomes - is an important part of this fully functioning ecology of any great community.
People just don’t want to live in communities that lack arts and cultural opportunities.
So, we give to the arts - where the challenges are just as daunting as in human services or education, where funding is short and where lives get changed for the better by virtue of the work being done.
Join us. Trust us. It feels good to help.
David W. Horvitz is chairman of WLD Enterprises, Inc., a private investment firm. Active in civic and philanthropic endeavors for many years, Horvitz is the chairman of the board of the Governing Council of The Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, vice chair of the Cultural Foundation of Broward and trustee of the Musical Arts Association of Miami. He is a trustee of the Kresge Foundation in Detroit and chair of the board of the Gund Gallery, the art museum of Kenyon College. Horvitz and his wife, Francie Bishop Good, an internationally known contemporary artist, live in Fort Lauderdale.