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What Role Do Cultural Institutions Play During the Downturn?

St. Louis Botanical Gardens; schweb via Flickr

Question: St. Louis has a long-standing tradition of support for and pride in its cultural institutions such as the St. Louis Botanical Gardens and the Saint Louis Zoo. What role, if any, do these sort of institutions play in keeping civic pride high during these turbulent economic times?

Paul Solman: Enormous, I would think. In 1938, the Jewel Box in Forest Park, a New Deal project, attracted 400,000 visitors. They presumably spent money in town. And more to your point, went away proud. Hey, this is the justification for public funding (or tax breaks) for sports teams, which only benefit some of the population. But who can’t benefit from a zoo? See our story next week for more details.

Thanks to KETC/Channel 9 in St. Louis for collecting viewer questions.

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