It's been said that a city's arts & culture scene is a powerful sign of its economic prosperity. Just think: when an economy fails, what's the first thing people strike off their lists? The 'non-indispensables.' Luxury items, live performances, the arts. And artists are left scrounging. Hence the "starving artist" stereotype.
But the link between culture and prosperity also flows the other way. When people see their city investing in arts and culture, they feel prosperous. And the drive to beautify your surroundings is a contagious one. As an example, check out this humorous TED talk on how colorfully painting the buildings and roads in poor communities can transform attitudes: