Local nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $253 million in annual economic activity

PORTLAND, OR – The nonprofit arts and culture industry in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties generates more than $253 million in annual economic activity, according to Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, a national economic impact study. The study was conducted in 182 communities nationwide by Americans for the Arts, with local support from the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) and Business for Culture & the Arts (BCA).

According to the study, the region’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations spent $152 million during fiscal year 2010. This spending is far-reaching: organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services and acquire assets within their community. The industry also leverages more than $101 million in event-related spending by its audiences; as a result of attending a cultural event, attendees often eat dinner in local restaurants, pay for parking, buy gifts and souvenirs, and pay a babysitter. All combined, these dollars support 8,529 full-time equivalent jobs, generate $195 million in household income for local residents, and $21 million in local and state government revenues.

“Arts organizations add tremendous value to our community, but it’s not always something we can quantify,” said Eloise Damrosch, executive director of RACC. “We know that the arts have the power to inspire us and provoke us, delight and engage us. They foster creativity in the classroom and stimulate innovation in our workplaces. But now we see exactly how much arts and culture organizations contribute to the local economy – and it’s significant.”

Deborah Edward, executive director of BCA, added that arts organizations are important local businesses, too. “They hire employees and purchase goods and services in our community. They also anchor tourism and our after-work lives, supporting local restaurants, retailers, and hotels. Culture inspires commerce and our economy is all the better because of this dynamic. Plainly, the arts are good for business.”

The study found the total attendance at arts and culture events in 2010 was 4.6 million, and that 16.3% of these were visitors from out of town. Nearly 70% of all visitors say that the primary reason for their trip is “specifically to attend this arts/culture event,” and visitors who stay overnight in a local hotel spend an average of $154.79 per person as a direct result of their attendance.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study was conducted by Americans for the Arts and supported by The Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts. RACC, BCA, and the Creative Advocacy Network (CAN) contributed time and other support, including the collection of local data. The full text of the local report is available here.

Nationally, the study reveals that the nonprofit arts industry produced $135.2 billion in economic activity during 2010. This spending—$61.1 billion by nonprofit arts and culture organizations plus an additional $74.1 billion by their audiences—supported 4.1 million full-time equivalent jobs and generated $22.3 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. The national report is available here.

“This study shines a much-needed light on the vital role the arts play in stimulating and sustaining economic development,” says Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Contrary to popular belief, the arts are a bustling industry that supports a plethora of diverse jobs, generates significant revenues for local businesses and to federal, state and local governments and provides quality of life that positions communities to compete in our 21st century creative economy.”

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is the local arts agency for Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties, providing grants for artists, schools and nonprofit organizations; conducting workplace giving for arts and culture (“Work for Art”) and other advocacy efforts; presenting workshops and other forms of technical assistance; providing printed and web-based resources for artists; and integrating art into public spaces.

Business for Culture & the Arts (BCA) is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to strengthening Oregon’s cultural and economy vitality. BCA’s advocacy, strategic alliances, membership programs, research, networking and celebratory events help to connect businesses and the arts for mutual benefit. Approximately 180 Portland businesses are members of BCA, which is an affiliate of the national Business Committee for the Arts, Inc. www.nwbca.org.