The Southwest Florida nonprofit arts community has always argued the economic and social value of the arts community. We've advocated on behalf of our creative community; engaged the public in conversations about the depth and breadth of our cultural offerings; boasted large attendance numbers; and, painted a picture of arts as placemakers and the heart and soul of community.
And until recently, we advocated for the arts by estimating economic impact numbers, by supposing that indeed there was an economic impact. Our advocacy lacked the confidence that would have been buttressed by language informed by hard data. Well not anymore.
With the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study in hand, we can definitively say that our arts and culture industry is an economic and social powerhouse. In 2010, during arguably the worst economy in recent memory, Lee County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $68 million, supported more than 2,000 full-time jobs, and pumped $9 million into local and state coffers.
Many in the cultural community have lamented the fact that the arts industry is always justifying its existence to state and local officials in return for small investment dollars. Yet, at the same time, many of us in the arts community were doing nothing to change our language to that which public officials and business leaders could relate—namely dollars, jobs, and return on investment.
The economic impact study results have already helped to shift the discussion of the arts industry from one of entertainment, education, and inspiration to one of the arts industry as an integral economic engine in the county.Read More