When I was growing up, I had to spend seven miserable years playing my older sister’s used clarinet. My father, who was raised in the big band era, thought I could be the next Woody Herman and demanded that I “play, play, play!”
By the time I was a rebellious junior high school student, I had earned enough money to pay for half of a used electric guitar along with my best friend, Herbert Kenneth Logan, Jr.
Through the worn-out strings of my Ibanez Stratocaster knock-off, Herb and I were liberated. Of course, the first three-chord song we learned to play was The Who’s “My Generation.”
Since then my tastes have matured and my appreciation for music, arts and culture has expanded and grown. So has my appreciation for the substantial impact the arts have on Philadelphia’s regional economy. As a significant economic driver, the arts and cultural community pumps billions into our local economy and its neighborhoods.
Nationally, the arts and culture funneled more than $698 billion into the U.S. economy in 2012 for about 4.32 percent of the country's goods and services. Here at home, arts and culture have a $3.3 billion impact on the Greater Philadelphia economy. That figure includes not just direct spending, such as money spent on tickets or to produce an event, but indirect spending as well.
The Chamber’s Arts + Business Council of Greater Philadelphia plays an important role connecting arts and culture non-profits with business leaders to help further grow our regional economy. In fact, the council’s CreativeXchange, an interactive leadership development opportunity, taking professionals out of the world of analytical thinking and, through the creative process, empowering them to understand, tap into, and maximize their creative potential. This four-session program, led by Philadelphia’s top creative minds and art-makers, is specifically designed to help business, legal, and technology professionals in the Greater Philadelphia region design better culture, performance and teaming. It’s the kind of innovative programming that makes our region a magnet for the arts, innovation and business.
To learn more about the arts and culture community in Greater Philadelphia, check out http://artsbusinessphl.org/.
I never learned to play the clarinet well, but before my dad passed away we learned to appreciate each other’s tastes in music. I learned to appreciate the clarinet and even encourage my kids to listen to the likes of Artie Shaw and Stanley Drucker. My dad never fully understood The Who, but got a kick out of seeing me do my Pete Townsend impression.
Rob Wonderling is President and CEO of The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. He can be reached at rwonderling@chamberPHL.com.