The Economic Impact of Arts and Culture
July 03, 2012
Most if not all, arts organizations are able to articulate the intangible, cultural benefits of their arts programs to their community and to society. Defining the economic impact, particularly when seeking funding, can be a tougher task. Arts and cultural organizations achieve much more than their specific art form. Arts programming contributes to a community at many levels. Documenting the positive impact of an event/arts program is important at the time the organization is seeking a grant renewal or discussing funding opportunities with a private donor or corporate sponsor.
Direct and Indirect Economic Contribution
It is straightforward for an arts organization to identify the direct economic contribution made – all spending by visitors who attend an event, as well as wages, taxes and goods and services purchased in the community. A second positive impact, but more difficult to quantify is the indirect economic contribution related to spending in the local community by visitors and participants of an arts program, event or performance.
A new US study, “Arts and Economic Prosperity” issued by Americans for the Arts relates how arts and culture impact the economy. It begins to quantify how arts and cultural organizations leverage additional event related spending by audiences into the local economy. The objective is to try and identify for funders that arts is an important component to a local economy and a support to economic recovery. It firmly suggests that private donors, corporations and government funders need not feel that a choice exists between arts funding and other means of economic prosperity. Both are important as our Vice Chair John McKellar stated in “The Arts Mean Business”.
The research indicates that every attendee of an arts event generates local income, an average of $24.60 in addition to the cost of admission. Non-local visitors to an arts event spend more ($39.96 vs. $17.42 ) than local attendees. A thriving arts community supports residents who spend ‘local’ but also attract visitors who spend money and further support local economic activity. Comparable data at the community or national level is not as available in Canada. We notionally know this, and referencing the American findings may be a useful tool for arts organizations when making funding requests or speaking with their donors.
You can access the study summary at www.artsusa.org/economicimpact - Report dated June 8, 2012.