Why We Invest in the Arts

Art has the power to transform our world. That's why we've gone all-in on investing in them.

Art Builds Strong Communities


Yes, the arts are beautiful and stirring. Yes! But their impact on our lives and communities goes far beyond our senses. There is an established and growing body of evidence showing the power of the arts to strengthen democracy, bolster economies, increase student performance, improve mental and physical health, and bring communities together.

The research is there. And then, there’s what we already know in our heart: the intrinsic value of art — shimmering threads of culture and creativity woven through the fabric of our individual lives, collective history, and emerging future. We invite you to take a moment to explore this brief summary of why Bonfils-Stanton Foundation is working to develop an arts-rich culture and invest in arts-inspired leaders in our community.

The Challenge of Growth

As metro Denver continues to face the challenges of rapid growth — including affordability and displacement — it is especially important to integrate the arts with community planning and development work, partnering with other sectors such as transportation and housing. This practice of arts and place-based community development, known as “Creative Placemaking,” honors a sense of place — the relationship between people and their spatial environment — by preserving culture and memories. It increases a sense of belonging among residents and helps them work better together to build a more equitable, healthy, and sustainable community.

Jane Jacobs
Urbanist & Community Advocate

“Designing a dream city is easy; rebuilding a living city takes imagination.”

The essential role of the arts in quality of Life

The arts are critical for building the type of communities we want to live in — cities and neighborhoods with a high quality of life in which residents feel connection and belonging. The arts impact many of the factors that define “quality of life,” including the visual environment, economy, social stability, safety, education, and culture.

Studies show that arts-rich communities are safer, healthier and smarter than similar communities with fewer arts & culture opportunities. They have lower rates of crime and obesity. There are fewer reports of neglect and abuse. Their students score better on academic exams.

The arts make us feel good about where we live. More than 85% of Denver residents say arts & culture in their neighborhoods inspire “a sense of pride,” and they “would feel a great sense of loss” if it went away.

Participation in arts & culture activities brings people from different backgrounds and generations together. It increases intercultural understanding and builds trust. In turn, volunteerism and partnerships bloom within communities.

Art Strengthens Democracy

Strength of Democracy

If democracy must exist in the tension between ideological extremes, the arts can increase the strength of our social fabric by bridging gaps in understanding, increasing empathy and trust, and boosting civic participation. All of these are necessary to overcome polarization and make progress on pressing social problems.

Studies show people are much more likely to get involved in local issues and projects if they live in cities and neighborhoods with more arts activities. Young people who participate in the arts become twice as likely to vote.

Storytellers, Truthtellers

Artists are powerful storytellers — and truth tellers. Their work allows us to better understand the history, heritage, and unique experiences of others. It draws attention to our triumphs and struggles. It evokes feelings of gratitude and hope, humility and compassion — essential qualities for leaders to embody in a just society.

Here in Denver, more than 80% of residents surveyed believe arts & culture help them connect with others, bring communities together, and help address issues of racial injustice.

Maria Rosario Jackson
Chair, National Endowment for the Arts

“Core to the American ethos is the ability for all people to express, tell and see their own stories on their own terms."
"For my entire career, my sincere belief has been that the things we aspire to as a nation of opportunity and justice are not possible without the integration of arts and culture throughout society.”



More than 50% of U.S. hospitals now have arts programs.

Art Heals the Sick

The arts as medicine

The arts help us heal, and that’s why they are becoming an established form of treatment in health care. The arts lead to cognitive improvement and protect from age-related cognitive decline.

Patients who see art from their hospital beds recuperate faster and require fewer pain medications. Other studies show engaging in the arts leads to increased immunity for those battling terminal disease.

Creative arts programs, like those at the University of Colorado Anchutz Medical Campus, have been found to significantly reduce feelings of anxiety and depression among critical care healthcare professionals who endure stressful work environments.

The arts change our brains — improving plasticity and myelin nerve growth for faster transmission of electric signals.

The arts for our collective health

Arts & culture also play an important role in improving our collective health and well-being — especially during difficult times. For example, during the early quarantines of the COVID-19 pandemic, 85% of people used art to cope with their feelings.

Across our country, we continue to struggle with record levels of stress, disconnection, and mental health challenges.

“A majority of young people today do not feel hopeful about the future,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, remarking on the epidemics of loneliness and depression in our society. “So this is a time when I do think revitalizing the arts is essential — for not only fostering social connection but for bringing hope to people at a time when a lot of people are worried about the future."

”Because of their ability to foster resilience and healing, the arts are increasingly being incorporated into broader community care strategies. Health and social care providers are partnering with community-based arts & culture organizations to address communities' social and psychological needs.

U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy

“Music has the power to change the mood of a person, of an audience, instantaneously. Art can do that as well. And, you know, I prescribed a lot of medicines as a doctor over the years. There are few that have that kind of extraordinary, instantaneous effect on the nervous system and human beings as a whole. So the arts are medicine, and the arts are a source of healing, and that's why they deserve prioritization and investment.”

Many are surprised to learn the arts & culture sector is 4.4% of our nation’s economy — even bigger than other sectors such as transportation, outdoor recreation, and agriculture.

Art Grows the Economy

The success of Denver’s creative economy accelerates growth across many industries.

Our dynamic cultural scene contributes to the quality of life that helps local companies attract and retain skilled talent.

The opportunity to be close to so much creative talent attracts businesses that want to adopt a “creative mindset” — that is, collaborating across industries like design, engineering, information technology, and filmmaking — because firms with this quality are known to outperform competitors in revenue growth and market share.

The arts attract visitors and tourists to our region, creating a ripple of economic impact. Beyond the ticket purchased to attend an arts & culture event, a person in Denver spends an average of $44 on related expenses such as restaurants, retail shopping, lodging, local transportation, childcare, and more. All that event-related spending by arts & culture audiences adds up, contributing hundreds of millions to local businesses each year.

The economic impact is especially pronounced here in Denver, which 84% of residents consider “an arts town” (in addition to our love of sports and the outdoors). Denver has much higher than average participation rates in arts & culture events, and more than double the national average for the percent of “creative industries” among all businesses (6.5% in Denver vs. 2.9% nationally).

Mitch Glazier
Chairman and CEO, Recording Industry Association of America

“The arts are the foundation of vibrant communities and help us connect, understand, and inspire one another — all while driving economic growth, creating rewarding jobs and careers, and powering our culture forward.”

Art Educates Our Youth

Teaching us to think differently

We live in a time of rapid change, much of it driven by astounding technological advancements impacting all sectors of society. Our students must be prepared to navigate and lead in this new world, and the arts are being increasingly recognized for their role in preparing learners — young and old — for this challenge.

Decades of research shows that arts education benefits all students, not just those who become artists. Students who engage in arts education achieve more academically: they get better grades and higher standardized test scores.

The arts help students learn to think differently — more critically and creatively. They help students grow emotionally and socially, gaining empathy and confidence. They are also more active in the community. The benefits of the arts begin with our youngest learners (improving language, literacy, and motor skills in early childhood) and extend to the most experienced among us (improving cognitive abilities in older adults). Arts & culture can offer opportunities for all of us to keep learning while becoming better learners at the same time.

Stephen Brackett
Co-founder of Youth on Record, and MC of the band Flobots

“With the classes we are providing, we’re trying to create an opportunity for dialogue with students; and in that dialogue, helping them answer questions of how they can become more free, how they can engage with experience, and how they can make different tools to help them navigate...”

Students from low-income homes who are involved in the arts are more than twice as likely as their peers to earn a college degree.

Art Inspires Leadership

Fostering powerful leaders

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation has a long-standing commitment to fostering and supporting the type of leaders we need in a thriving and just community. This is a natural extension of our focus on promoting arts & culture because of the important role the arts play in developing creative, transformative, compassionate leaders.

Nearly 90% of executives participated in the arts in school, and nearly half of all executives say the arts significantly contributed to their career success.

Leaders in all sectors benefit from the ways the arts can open up new ways of thinking and encourage imagination, but research shows a strong connection in scientific fields. In fact, Nobel Prize winning scientists are nearly three times more likely than the U.S. public to have an artistic hobby.

In a study of 1,500 CEOs, most said creativity is the most essential leadership skill — more than rigor, management discipline, or even vision.


Harnessing the power of the arts for global change

The world spins faster and faster, and we struggle to find our footing. We’re confronted with the daunting challenges of our time, locally and globally: Affordability. Food insecurity. Homelessness. Systemic racial injustice. Epidemics of loneliness, depression and substance use disorder. Political and social polarization. Pollution and climate change. And, oh yeah, the traffic.
We can’t find our balance, can’t solve these challenges, alone. Complex problems require us to reach out, and the arts have a unique ability to engage residents, promote mutual understanding, enhance social cohesion, kindle hope, and spark creative problem-solving.

What Does Art do for You?

Start a conversation

The arts enrich our lives in so many meaningful ways. At Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, we promote access to the arts in metro Denver because we believe everyone in our community can benefit from engagement with the art itself — and the creative process. If you agree, let us know in one or more of the following ways!

If you have a great story to share about the impact of the arts in metro Denver, please send us an email.

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