Non-Profit Arts Are Big Business In Windham County
BRATTLEBORO—With direct spending of nearly $11million, the non-profit arts organizations of Windham County and their audiences are big players in the local economy.
The report “Arts and Prosperity in Windham County” just released by the Arts Council of Windham County (ACWC) shows that this spending provides the equivalent of 330 full time jobs in the county and yields $818,000 in local and state taxes. Americans for the Arts conducted the study as part of its fourth national Arts and Economic Prosperity IV report.
“The main point made with this study is that the arts are not an economic black hole” said Zon Eastes, main author of the local report. “The money the community invests and spends in the arts stays in the community and gets re-spent in very helpful ways. The arts are important beyond their value in improved quality of life and creative stimulation.”
The 22-page study is derived from detailed input from 41 Windham County non-profit arts organizations for 2010 and surveys of 600 of their audience members during 2011. Americans for the Arts, a Washington based non-profit, analyzed these findings, along with those from 181 other areas in all 50 states to calculate economic impact nationally, and in each of the local study areas. (The national report is available at www.artsusa.org)
According to Doug Cox, ACWC president, “These numbers are not surprising and in line with a similar study we did in 2007. The arts community is active and healthy, though struggling with the economic conditions since 2008. One significant finding is that our audiences are spending much less locally than they did before the recession. Our local experience mirrors the national situation.”
The $11million of direct spending is the total of the $7.5mil arts organizations receive (from donations, tuition, tickets sales, grants, etc.) and then spend to produce their art and educational products (salaries, rent, insurance, paint, etc,). Added to that is the $3.5mil their audiences spend on such things as rooms, meals, souvenirs and babysitters when attending events.
In addition, the study finds volunteer and in-kind support for arts organizations in the county with a value of $1.2mil.
“It is very helpful for us to have these figures and analysis tools,” said Pam Lierle, Managing Director of the Brattleboro Music Center, one of the study participants. “We can use this information to make better decisions about what and how we do our work. We can now quantify the role we have in the regional economy and who our natural partners are.”
“While the study does not include action steps to improve the economic health of our county, there are several areas that look promising,” said Cox. “ The percentage of audience from outside the area is below the national average, and they spend less per-person than the national average. With our prime location within 3-5 hours of major metropolitan areas and the Vermont brand for quality, we should be able to do better.”
“This study is a first look at the Arts sector of the county as a whole. It demonstrates a fresh interest in regional collaboration and marketing,” said Cox. “The study does not include the for-profit arts businesses and working artists and craftsmen, most of whom sell outside the area and bring money into our local economy. This sector is surely significantly larger than the non-profit, but is harder to measure.”
The Arts Council of Windham County is a 37-year-old non-profit with the mission to “Strengthen the Environment for Artists and Arts Organizations in Windham County”. This report in PDF format is available at www.acwc.us, as is the 2007 study.
Doug Cox firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-257-1024 ACWC President
Zon Eastes email@example.com 802-380-9550 Report Editor