NCSL Labor and Economic Development Committee - Policy

Arts, Culture and Economic Development

expires August 2013

Arts and culture can influence an array of policy goals, including economic development, rural development, urban revitalization, revenue generation, tourism, accessibility and participation, diversity, education, and youth development. For many of these areas, states and the federal government are partnered. Support for the production, distribution, and infrastructure of the arts is critical to success in tourism, attracting business interests, economic development, and quality of life issues. Further, the arts are a core academic subject in our schools. Strong and sequential arts education through primary and secondary school contributes to student success and workforce development. In our education systems, the study of the arts should remain vibrant. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) encourages a better and stronger understanding of this partnership as well as a reasoned study and understanding of the inputs and benefits.

Economic Development

Arts and culture are consistent sources of economic growth, during both good and difficult economic times. Specifically, arts and culture policies and programs increase economic development in states by attracting businesses, creating new jobs, increasing tax revenues and promoting tourism. Additionally, the arts and culture play a key role in urban revitalization and community renewal strategies. NCSL encourages the federal government to support arts and culture through investments in programs that will promote economic development, jobs creation, and community revitalization at the state and local level.


Tourism is a vital element of state economic development, diversification, and rural development programs, as well as a leading services sector employer.   NCSL encourages Congress and the Administration to open and maintain consultative processes with state governments, and state legislatures in particular, to ensure that state and federal policies and programs encourage the continued vitality of this important sector of the economy. Further, federal economic development and disaster recovery programs should include tourism among the activities eligible for support.

National Heritage Areas

The National Park Service defines a National Heritage Area as a place designated by the United States Congress where natural, cultural, historic, and recreational resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography.   Recognizing these areas as viable drivers for historic preservation and cultural tourism, the National Park Service and the Congress should consult state legislators, as both state policymakers and community leaders, to identify ways of maximizing the National Heritage Area designation to the benefit of their communities and their states.

Collaboration and Coordination

 The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the White House Preserve America initiative, offices within USDA Rural Development, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Department of Education, and many others are engaged in promoting various aspects of culture, the arts, heritage preservation, and tourism. NCSL encourages collaboration and coordination among these disparate agencies and budgetary line-items with state legislatures to ensure that the policy and program outcomes meet the needs and goals identified by state policymakers. Further, this collaboration and coordination should improve the identification and sharing of best practices from and among the states and the federal government.

Labor and Economic Development Committee