Arts programs are much more than just amenities. They enrich our lives. Support ArtsFund.

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THERE are many outward signs of our region’s growth lately: gleaming new high-rises in Bellevue and Seattle, an influx of creative newcomers and busier roads, stores and restaurants.

The Puget Sound economy is bouncing back from the recession. But support for charities hasn’t recovered as quickly, remaining below its 2008 peak, according to a recent report by Philanthropy Northwest.

Among the groups working to overcome this headwind — and maintain the vibrancy that draws people and companies to our region — is ArtsFund.

For more than 40 years, the nonprofit has raised money to help pay for operations at arts organizations in the central Puget Sound area. Last year, it helped fund more than 9,000 exhibitions and productions that attracted more than 7.9 million visits, including visits from more than 800,000 students.

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These arts programs are much more than just amenities. They enrich our lives, enhance our sense of community and balance our data-driven lives.

In its current fundraising campaign, seeking to raise nearly $3.4 million by June 30, ArtsFund notes that the arts themselves are a $2 billion industry in the region.

There are ripple effects: The arts scene influences products designed and built in the Northwest and used by people around the world.

Perhaps some of the California-based technology companies that have flocked to Seattle to take advantage of our rich and creative talent pool will take note and join in supporting ArtsFund and other philanthropies that help make this a special place.