Planning - you have to look ahead or keep looking back

It is well known that multinational retailers operate on small profit margins, after all, a half a percent of a million dollars a day is still a lot of money.

This is the economics of large numbers - volume sales, hence the mega stores. For every dollar exchanged, perhaps 30 cents goes toward wages, another 40 for goods and services (transport), maybe 20 for overhead, a few percent for administration and a fraction is returned to shareholders as profit. In other words, 70 cents of every dollar spent, leaves the community to be spent elsewhere. If communities operated on a profit and loss basis similar to private businesses, this would be seen as a glaring inefficiency.

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The small independents fair better. As much as 60-70 percent of their earned dollars stay in the community to be spent again. At that rate a local service group, a hospital or school board spend close to 100 percent of their dollars in the community in which they are situated. Professional arts return 400 percent of every dollar back into the community.

Given that the arts are essential to the economic life of any community, and given that the arts will attract participating citizens to that community, and given that the arts will directly or indirectly enhance the quality of life for everyone, the following statement applies: “To ensure that we can promote the economic and cultural growth of this city to the fullest extent and for the widest possible participation, this city will:

Promote the highest level of creativity in the cultural life of its citizens, promote the greatest diversity in its artistic life including professional & nonprofessional, the traditional and the innovative, encourage the financial and managerial efficiency of its artistic organization, ensure the existence of sound facilities for all artistic expression and presentation within the city. It will also ensure that all residents & visitors, including seniors, youth, low income people, ethnic minorities, and other distinct groups will have the opportunity to participate in cultural activities.” 

- Adapted from a document signed and adopted by the City of Vancouver in 1987.


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