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Pasadena Star News

Pasadena, CA - WHILE they didn't come right out and say it, Nancy Devine, Ann Stone and their RAND colleagues' research boils down to that simplest catch phrase: Art for art's sake.

In a presentation before over 100 cultural leaders at the Armory in Old Pasadena Monday titled "Reframing the Debate About the Value of the Arts,' the researchers said, and I paraphrase: Don't give us this mealy-mouthed stuff justifying art because of economic development, jobs, student test scores.

Dig it for itself and the experience will pay off in spades.

If it's strict economic impact you want, build a shopping mall. If it's art, listen to a great song, wander a museum or gallery, build an earthwork, read a non-best-selling novel.

I understand the reasons that, for the past decade or so, arts advocates have played the practical card.

It works well for the elected yahoos in Sacramento, say, who wouldn't lift a brush, plunk a note or parse a line of poetry to save their white-bread souls.

Not to mention stare at something in a frame on a museum wall painted by some godless wacko.

So you sell them arts funding by telling them about the fiscal benefits to California cities, which are no doubt real, and the pols grudgingly fork over the scratch.

But that argument is getting tiresome. And the RAND study quantifies for us that it's not one we have to make any more.

The study, funded by the Wallace Foundation, differentiates between art's instrumental benefits economic growth, academic performance and intrinsic ones: the nurture of the soul, the challenge to the mind, the opening of the heart.

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