Leveraging the Power of the Arts: Collaboration Between the Arts and Business is Transforming Palm Beach County

Posted by Ms. Rena Blades, May 12, 2017 0 comments

A few weeks ago, Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce released the results of a comprehensive cultural industry impact study. The results show that inflation-adjusted spending on arts and cultural goods and services reached $1.1 trillion in 2014, and that arts and cultural economic activity accounted for 4.2 percent of U.S. GDP, or $729.6 billion. It’s clear that the cultural sector is an increasingly strong economic force.

Florida, with 3.3 percent growth, is in the top five states for the fastest-growing arts and culture job markets in the nation. The state had 236,557 jobs related to arts and culture in 2014, representing 2.8 percent of jobs here with an average compensation of $59,326.

Palm Beach County, Florida is a microcosm of that economic impact. Last year, a study we conducted with Surale Phillips and Americans for the Arts, “Economic Impact of Cultural Tourism in Palm Beach County,” revealed that the arts support nearly 12,000 jobs and more than $225 million in resident income, generating revenue of more than $538 billion.

The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County has made it a priority to harness this economic power and put it to work to build more robust cultural facility infrastructure, promote arts districts, and cultivate an ever-stronger community of artists.

The private sector has a long and compelling history of philanthropic support for arts and culture in The Palm Beaches, a fact that makes this County stand out over the rest of the State. In addition, the cultural sector is supporting private sector growth. We do this by promoting cultural tourism to a nationwide audience via advertising, public relations, and social media programs that talk about our cultural organizations, our hotels, and our restaurants. The Cultural Council knows that our marketing success equals tourist tax revenue, and tourist tax revenue is a win for our community.

During 2015, cultural tourism resulted in local government revenues of more than $22 million. A portion of the hotel tourist tax is reinvested in the arts. This wisely aligns our interests with the tourism industry. If the hospitality industry succeeds, so do the arts.

We are working closely with the tourism industry in a marketing partnership that nourishes the arts and creates jobs and economic growth. Every day we communicate a national identity for art and culture in The Palm Beaches with the message that Palm Beach County is an arts-rich destination that also has the best hotels, amazing cuisine, and a backdrop of gorgeous coastline.

During 2015, seven percent of hotel rooms in The Palm Beaches were filled by visitors who came here to experience art and culture. What makes Palm Beach County an incredible place to live, and a powerful draw for so many tourists, are the vibrant museums, theaters, ecological centers, and historical sites in our area. Palm Beach County boasts the largest nonprofit cultural sector per capita in the state, and in fact, any region south of Atlanta. This gives us an advantage over other beach destinations, and we’re working to keep it that way.

The newly released Department of Commerce data is an opportunity for all of us in the arts to take the next step, leveraging our economic power and the tremendous impact we have on the travel, lodging, restaurant, transportation and retail industries.

Cultural Council of Palm Beach County is a member of Americans for the Arts.

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