"Culture and the arts are essential means by which all people explain their experience, shape their identity and imagine the future...People need the arts to make sense of their lives, to know who they are. But our democracy needs the arts, too. The arts animate civil society. They stretch our imagination. They increase our compassion for others by providing creative ways for us to understand and deal with differences. The arts protect and enrich the dignity and the public discourse that are at the heart of a healthy democracy."
This is a quote from Holly Sidford of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. The quote is made in reaction to the disparity between the amount of funds that go toward large theatre and arts in big metropolitan areas and smaller, rural communities.
The article on the Theatre Ideas blog addresses this issue in a 3 parter on the similarities between the financial disparity that Occupy Wall Street protesters are arguing against and the disparity in arts funding. Read all three parts if you have the time.