Blog Posts for July 2012 Blog Salon

Proving the Economic Power of Local Arts Agencies

Posted by Theresa Cameron, Jul 13, 2012 0 comments

Well its official, our Local Arts Agency Blog Salon (catch up and read all of the posts with that one easy link) was a home run!

We heard from more than 20 bloggers representing all parts of our great nation about ways communities and their arts economic development strategies are being harnessed to create the 21st century creative community.

This week, bloggers have given very specific examples of how having the right message and the right data can help propel a community forward. The arts at the local level are being taken seriously because of the data, the stats, and the vision.

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Fort Collins: Weekly Festival Boosts Downtown Businesses, Helps Artists

Posted by Beth Flowers, Jul 13, 2012 0 comments

A quartet plays as part of Beet Street's Streetmosphere summer program.

It seems like the arts are finally gaining some traction—the whole country is paying attention to arts as an economic driver.

The National Governors Association just released a great new study that identifies five tactics for using arts, culture, and the creative industry as economic development tools.

They are actually encouraging state governments to include the arts and creative businesses in their economic development strategies, providing new incentives and programs that can help our industry grow and finally be counted for the incredible impact we have on the economy.

Here in Fort Collins, our community has embraced the notion that our community is better because of its arts for years. We have won numerous nationwide awards including Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live." The awards are due the incredible quality of life we enjoy—thanks in large part to the many artists and arts organizations who make our whole town buzz with activity and creativity.

Last year, Fort Collins was also awarded the 2011 Governor's Arts Award by Colorado Creative Industries and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade that recognizes a Colorado community for their collective efforts to enhance their community and their economy through strategic use of the arts.

What helped set the stage for the Governor’s Award included the Downtown Development Authority’s formulation of Beet Street in 2007 and the adoption of the City of Fort Collins Cultural Plan by the Fort Collins City Council in 2008.

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OR: Building a Case as Portland Prepares to Vote on Arts Funding

Posted by Mr. Jeff A. Hawthorne, Jul 13, 2012 0 comments

Jeff Hawthorne

The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV report comes at an interesting time for Portland as we prepare to launch a campaign for a transformational arts funding measure that’s headed for the November ballot.

If approved by voters in November, a new income tax capped at $35 per person will raise $12 million per year to support arts organizations and arts education in the City of Portland. Specifically, the measure would restore 65 arts specialists in elementary schools and allow our local arts agency to provide general operating support for about 50 leading arts organizations at a rate of at least five percent of their operating budgets. (Our largest organizations currently receive about one percent of their budgets from local public support).

The measure would also help our Regional Arts & Culture Council set up a fund to increase access to arts and culture, specifically within communities of color and underserved neighborhoods.

The Creative Advocacy Network (CAN) is leading this initiative, and even the most recent polls have been strong, earning 75 percent approval of the actual ballot language among likely voters; we are cautiously optimistic about our chances for success.

However, inexplicably, our local newspaper recently published an appallingly ignorant editorial that dismisses the notion of public funding for the arts, and value of arts education in particular. We’re not quite sure what rock they’ve been living under, but we know they don’t represent the opinion of the vast majority of Portland residents. The letter writing campaign to enlighten them has begun! (Thank you, Bob Lynch, for your letter.)

We’ve also done polling to make sure we understand which messages are most likely to resonate with the voters, and we found that economic impact was not very high on the list. The fact that our local arts organizations constitute a $253 million industry, supporting 8,529 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $21 million in state and local government revenue was deemed “persuasive” by slightly less than half of the likely voters we surveyed.

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Arts at the Core of a Growing North Dakota Community

Posted by Terri Aldrich, Jul 13, 2012 0 comments

My community (Minot, ND) is in a very unusual position.

In 2011, a 500-year flood devastated our community and displaced 12,000 residents (nearly one-third of our population). This week marked the one-year anniversary of the evacuation sirens and many homes have yet to be “mucked out."

On the other hand, the oil industry here has created a growing economy, increasing our tax revenue and boosting airport boardings to record levels. Our airline traffic has increased from four flights daily to 18. We have had growth and devastation all in the same year.

During the time, Minot arts organizations and artists have helped to raise funds, raise spirits, and raise awareness. Our Fifth Annual Integrity Jazz Festival is a perfect example. Sponsors from the community stepped up to the plate to present this event free of charge to the public in cooperation with the Weekend of Hope, a celebration of a community rebuilding. Survey responses indicated that 30 percent of our attendees came from outside Minot. They bought food, gasoline, and artwork, putting dollars into our local economy while hearing some great jazz music in a beautiful outdoor setting.

The evidence of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts industry in Minot is detailed in the Arts and Economic Prosperity IV (AEP IV) data. The nonprofit arts industry has a $9.9 million impact that supports 225 full-time equivalent jobs. That number represents an increase of $1.4 million from the 2005 AEP III data!

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Economic Data Provides the Base for Public and Private Sector Advocacy

Posted by Jennifer Cover Payne, Jul 12, 2012 0 comments

Jennifer Cover Payne

Eighteen years ago there was little research documenting the economic impact of arts and culture in the Greater Washington DC metropolitan region. The key advocacy message focused primarily on the intrinsic value of arts and its ability to transform communities.

Most of the information conveyed was subjective or limited to research conducted by specific arts organizations for their marketing purposes. The organizations, all part of the DC metropolitan region, did not cross jurisdictional boundaries to collaborate as research partners. The Arts & Economic Prosperity (AEP) studies eliminated the regional jurisdictional research barriers.

The Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington connects the six leaders of the arts councils and commissions representing: the District of Columbia; the City of Alexandria in Virginia; Arlington and Fairfax Counties in Virginia; and, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland. The arts council and commission leaders meet several times a year under the umbrella of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington to discuss their arts projects, regional arts challenges, and successes.

Before the economic downturn, when local governments had more money, the AEP studies were part of the rationale that the city and council members used to grant millions of dollars to arts organizations that were building new or renovating old venues. Now the data supports the budget decision-making process for the arts and is essential to the vitality of arts programs throughout the region.

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Are We Actually Underestimating the True Value of the Arts?

Posted by Tom Bensen, Jul 12, 2012 2 comments

Tom Bensen

Like so many of my colleagues across the county, I eagerly awaited the results of Arts and Economic Prosperity IV, and when the initial results arrived, I started meeting with community leaders to help spread the word, get their insights, and in a few cases, a juicy quote for a PowerPoint presentation.

I expected several folks, particularly those who support the arts in our community, to be impressed by the numbers and totally supportive of the study. They did not disappoint.

I also wanted to get the reaction from local economists, those who know more than the rest of us about these kinds of studies, but this also made me nervous. What I feared was a response along the lines of “You really don’t know what you’re talking about.” Or, “Why don’t you all just focus on art and we’ll deal with the economy.”

Because we are in the business of advocating for the arts, I was afraid that this study would be criticized for overstating our case, that we’re all just pumping up the numbers to make us look good and to justify our existence.

So I was not prepared for this criticism from Larry Swanson, director and chief economist for the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana in Missoula:

“It is difficult to truly gauge how the arts benefit a community and area economic vitality by only looking at expenditures tied to non-profit arts organizations, even though these are important. Communities that are well-endowed in the arts are more vibrant and interesting places and tend to attract more educated and talented people who, once they make your community theirs, contribute in many other ways to area economic vitality. They first add to the area work force and to area economic activity and production, but they also buy homes and other area goods and services, they use area healt care, they send their children to our schools, and contribute in a variety of other ways to area economies. So, it becomes very difficult to fully gauge the importance of the arts to area economic growth and vitality, simply by looking at yearly expenditures by arts organizations and by patrons of the arts attending events.” 

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