Sandy Shaughnessy
Florida Division of Cultural Affairs

Sandy Shaughnessy


From the glitz of Miami’s colorful arts scene to cultural festivals in the Panhandle, arts and culture in Florida touches every part of our lives. Across the state, arts and cultural organizations support jobs, tourism and education while helping to build a more vibrant and creative Florida. These groups provide not just inspiration and entertainment but also contribute to civic pride and local economies. According to Americans for the Arts’ latest economic impact study, not-for-profit arts and culture has an impact of $4.68 billion in Florida, delivering more than $492 million to local and state government revenue. The report also finds that nearly $49 million of that impact is in Volusia County, with local government revenue totaling nearly $3 million. In Daytona Beach alone, Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs grantees employ more than 50 positions.

Beyond this direct impact on the economy, arts and culture both inspire us and help Florida attract new businesses. A recent study by the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine, funded by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, found a strong association between arts participation and both personal and community perceptions of quality of life. The University of Florida study demonstrates that Floridians who participate in the arts at least once per year such as attending a concert or visiting a museum are more likely to vote, volunteer, advocate and attend public meetings. In addition, arts participants are more likely to report better physical and mental health, as well as greater access to quality healthcare. Arts participants also indicate that their cities are good places to live in much higher numbers than those who did not participate in the arts.

A skilled and educated workforce is another recruitment tool for attracting businesses. Americans for the Arts tells us that students with four years of arts classes are 18 percent more likely to graduate from high school, have higher grade point averages and score nearly 100 points higher on the SAT. Students in arts classes learn innovation and resourceful thinking, and the creativity encouraged by arts classes is the number one skill business leaders look for when hiring.

All of these indicators align closely with the Division of Cultural Affairs’ vision to support vibrant, healthy and thriving communities where the arts are integrated into every aspect of life. Arts and culture in the Daytona region attract visitors and their dollars to the tune of more than $6 million per year. Residents of the region spend nearly $29 million in relation to arts and culture events, and this amount does not include the cost of admission. They eat at local restaurants, shop in local stores and may even pay a local babysitter when they visit the Daytona Cinematique or Museum of Arts and Sciences. These local dollars stay local. They ripple throughout the community, bolstering the economy of Volusia County and increasing local government revenues.

These are only some of the benefits of arts and culture to our communities. Cultural organizations celebrate the diversity of Florida, as demonstrated by next month’s Nowruz Festival presented by the Iranian American Society of Daytona Beach. Arts and culture contribute to the wellbeing of our veterans, providing enhanced healthcare opportunities through initiatives such as the National Endowment for the Arts’ Creative Forces Military Healing Arts Network. Recently, Florida artists volunteered their time and talents to relief efforts for Hurricane Michael, performing and bringing arts therapy to families in shelters.

As the Division of Cultural Affairs moves into the final year of our current strategic plan, we remain committed to advancing arts and cultural activity across the state, demonstrating leadership by bringing the cultural community together and providing meaningful professional development and capacity building training to individual artists and those working in cultural organizations. As we move forward in creating our next five-year strategic plan, we remain determined to diligently increase access to arts and culture for all Floridians as well as encouraging diversity in programming and audiences, including those currently underserved such as veterans and members of the disability community. We look forward to expanding and fostering new partnerships with non-traditional partners in the business community.

I challenge you to join us in harnessing the power of arts and culture to enhance and expand these benefits to your community. An investment in arts and culture will not only increase your own quality of life, but will also help make the Daytona Beach area and Volusia County more attractive to residents and visitors.

Now more than ever, the value of arts and culture is evident. The Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs encourages you to support the dozens of arts and cultural organizations in the Daytona region. By supporting your community’s artists and cultural organizations, the road ahead leads to a brighter future. Together we can make the Daytona Beach region and all of Florida a better place to live, work and play.

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