New Results Show Nonprofit Arts/Cultural Organizations Have Huge Impact on Forsyth County Economy
A milestone study done by Americans for the Arts and released June 11 shows that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Forsyth County are having a huge impact on the local economy. The study was conducted in 2011 using 2010 organizational budgetary data and arts and cultural audience surveys made in 2011. The figures show that combined spending by these groups and their audiences was $136.6 million, up from $103.79 million five years ago when the last study was made.
This total spending supports 4,769 full time equivalent jobs, up from 3,772 in 2005; accounts for more than $112.39 million in resident household income, up from $70.27 million; and generated more than $13.7 million in local and state tax revenues, up from $10.4 million. In every category, Forsyth County substantially exceeded the median of similar study regions and the national median.
Fifty-five Forsyth County nonprofit arts and cultural organizations participated and almost 1,000 event goers were surveyed during 2011 about their spending. In addition to the price of tickets, they averaged spending $26.64 per person, all dollars that went into the local economy. Sixty-nine percent of people who attended nonprofit arts and cultural events in Forsyth County were residents of the county and 31 percent were not. Nonresidents spend double that of residents.
The Arts Council of Winston-Salem paid to have Forsyth County included in the nationwide benchmark study by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advocating the arts. The North Carolina Arts Council participated, also, and will release statewide economic impact figures compiled in the study.
“This is the fourth study during the last two decades,” said Milton Rhodes, President and CEO of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, “and we have seen the role that the nonprofit arts and cultural community plays in our economy get stronger each time. We were eager to participate because of the credibility this particular study has based on the reputations of internationally recognized economists and statistical models and the input of researchers at Georgia Tech and elsewhere.
“We want to get the message out that while the arts enhance each of our lives every day, they also create jobs, generate tax revenues, and make a tremendous contribution to our economy. Some of the strongest supporters of the arts are businesses and corporations who are used to looking at the bottom line. They tell us the arts help attract and retain the kind of employees they must have to compete in our creative economy,” said Rhodes.
Stephen Jordan, Executive Director of the Business Civic Leadership Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is quoted in the report. “Many businesses support the arts across the country because they intuitively understand that the arts matter, so it is great to get the facts and a clearer understanding of the links between the arts and economic prosperity.”
The study produced customized findings on 182 regions, including Forsyth County, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Americans for the Arts released national figures last week that showed that in spite of the recession, the arts industry nationwide in 2010 generated $135.2 billion of economic activity –$61.1 billion by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and $74.1 billion in event related expenditures by audiences. This economic activity supports 4.1 million full-time equivalent jobs and generates $22.3 billion in revenue to local, state and federal governments each year.
“Because Winston-Salem bills itself at the ‘City of Arts and Innovation,” these economic impact statistics are of particular interest to us,” said Mayor Allen Joines. “This study confirms what we have known – the arts are an economic driver and play a very important role in countless other ways.”
The report also quotes Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter who chairs the United State Conference of Mayors. “Mayors understand the connection between the arts and city revenues. Arts activities create thousands of direct and indirect jobs and create billions in business and government revenues. The arts also make our cities destinations for tourists, help attract and retain businesses, and play an important role in the revitalization of cities and the vibrancy of our neighborhoods,” he said.
The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County was established in 1949 and was the first locally established arts council in the United States. The Arts Council enriches the quality of life for people in Winston-Salem and neighboring communities by raising funds for the arts, advocating for the arts, sponsoring events in conjunction with other arts organizations, providing arts education in schools, strengthening cultural resources, developing social capital, and aiding economic development. The Arts Council made $2,008,000 in awards in its last grant cycle.
Forty-two organizations and 26 individual artists received grants, with some receiving multiple awards. The Arts Council’s continued effectiveness can be attributed to the thousands of dedicated volunteers and contributors who are firmly committed to the idea that Winston-Salem is the “City of Arts and Innovation.”