Investment in the Arts Is Just Good Business

Everyone is familiar with the critical role that corporations play in maintaining the economic health of Orange County. Less known, but equally important, is the key role of corporations in developing and maintaining cultural balance in the community.

The jewel in the county’s cultural crown is the Orange County Performing Arts Center, now in its second year of operation. Corporations gave nearly $18 million to the Arts Center from 1980 to 1986, 23% of all its donations. Last year, however, corporate support fell to 14%.

Corporate contributions to many other arts groups have also been declining, and, as operating expenses increase, the cultural groups are working hard to persuade the business community that its donations must increase, too.


Last Wednesday, when a California Arts Council panel rejected financial requests from three county arts groups, they all indicated they would be looking to other sources for the funds, specifically the corporate community.

And Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, finding it harder and harder to get corporate support, is abandoning its plan to use city redevelopment money to build a new museum. Instead, it hopes to entice a developer to build on museum land an office building in which the museum could be installed on the first floor, the rental income from the building to be shared.

Corporations that support the arts are being good neighbors. But it goes beyond that. It is also good business. Theaters, concert halls, museums and arts groups are important ingredients that add to the quality of community life. That quality helps attract people, employees and new businesses, creating a climate in which individual residents and corporations prosper.