The Arts Propel Communities Forward

Laura Streib, AEP6 Coordinator

For the last year, RACC and Americans for the Arts have been connecting communities through arts and culture events throughout Multnomah County and the City of Portland.

By attending a myriad of events and connecting with attendees, as well as nonprofit organizations, we have been able to get a clear picture of what the arts landscape provides in terms of an economic recovery as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 shutdowns.

One thing we found crystal clear from all the events we were able to attend is just how grateful people are to get out and be part of cultural events again. The need to be able to connect with others is deep and profound.

The results of the surveys provide incredible insight into how the arts and culture nonprofit sector specifically has been resilient in working hard to bring us together and continue to make Portland and Multnomah County the creative and unique place it has always been. A quick overview –

By the Numbers

  • 12,280 jobs and $6 million dollars in household income from working in the arts/nonprofit sector
  • $19.9 Million in local tax revenue generated
  • $25.5 Million in State tax revenue generated
  • $114.6 Million in Federal Tax revenue generated

The ripple effects out into the greater economy can be seen and felt in event-related spending that totaled $331.2 million dollars. When people go out to experience a play or concert or gather for a cultural experience – everyone benefits.

For example, the coffee shop or restaurant where someone stops before or after a show, the drinks enjoyed in the lobby, or the childcare spent to enjoy a night without the kids. All this adds up.

At one event we attended at the Old Church Concert Hall, we had a fascinating conversation with two friends who had driven down from Seattle to attend the sold-out concert. When they started filling out the survey, they realized all of the extra costs associated with what they thought was just a concert.

They paid for gas on their drive down to Portland, they stayed overnight in a local Airbnb, and they went out for dinner, drinks, and coffee. One individual bought a T-shirt from the concert and a vinyl record. Throughout our conversation, it became clear that the arts are an important driving force in our economy.

We know the world has changed dramatically since the last AEP study was released. The data from that last study has helped individual artists apply for grants, assisted organizations in strategic planning, and even shaped planning and policy in Troutdale. Those effects continue to resound today. Data from the AEP5 study was used by the Economic Development Coordinator in Troutdale to push their city leaders to extend the Troutdale Arts Festival into a weekend-long event that closed the main street in old town Troutdale. Having the data of the arts driving economy was the push the city decision-makers needed to implement this new festival which now draws thousands of people each summer. This has led to more concerts in the park, movie nights, and other cultural events throughout the summer in East Multnomah County.

Arts and Culture are major drivers of our economy and are something our city officials and elected leaders need to be mindful of as we continue to emerge from these continued uncertain times. As Oregon is ranked 41st in terms of public dollars invested in Arts and Culture, we need to do more to leverage the creative economy for the betterment of our communities.

The arts mean business in the Greater Portland area. 

Save the Date!

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), in collaboration with Oregon Arts Commission, Tualatin Valley Creates, and Clackamas County Art Alliance, is excited to unveil the recently released Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study, a comprehensive exploration from Americans for the Arts into how arts breathe life and dollars into our economy.

Join us on Monday, November 6th, 5:30 – 7:30 pm PST at Lakewood Center for the Arts, Lake Oswego (Map). Secure Your Spot!