Over 110 people attended the Whose Business is the Arts? public forum held by the Lehigh Valley Arts Council on October 30, 2007. A series of presentations and interactive sessions on the economy, the arts, and the community, Whose Business is the Arts? brought together business executives, corporate contributors, artists, arts administrators, foundation representatives, board members, and government officials.
Following a networking continental breakfast, Greg Butz of Alvin H. Butz Inc. gave opening remarks on the role of business in revitalizing the region’s downtowns, and credited the arts in Allentown for his company’s decision to relocate their headquarters to downtown. Randy Cohen, of Americans for the Arts, then took to the podium to discuss the recent results of Arts & Economic Prosperity III relative to life in the Lehigh Valley. Arts management consultant Bill Moskin followed with an address about the sustainability of the arts and ways in which the arts are in transition.
Following a break, the public forum broke into two sessions. Session A remained with Mr. Moskin to discuss identifying and strengthening arts/business partnerships.
Collaborations, according to Mr. Moskin, are imperative. They can vary in nature, from simple to complex, including programming, research, marketing, and administration. Questions to ask when considering an arts/business partnership include: What’s the point and purpose? Why can working with someone else move you forward? How do you measure success? How much time is required? What is practical? Do both sides have the skill sets required? Do you share values? How is this really going to work?
It is also important to consider that the arts and businesses speak different languages. Jargon can be misleading, and both parties need to take the time to ask what needs to be explained. Arts and businesses also gave different bottom lines, which makes decision-making is more difficult and time-consuming. Success comes from looking at the places in the cultural organization or business where there is something mutual to accomplish and values overlap – perhaps not wholly, but partially. Collaborations can include activities that create a product, or intense investments, like putting together a cultural plan.
Finally, relationships can be fostered through underutilized alliances, like the introduction of younger board members for arts and cultural organizations. To allow for new voices and perspectives, suggestions include integration of younger board members, being intergenerational, and actively developing prospective future board members.
Session B featured Laura Mullen, who presented a case study on a successful, sustainable artist live/work space initiative in Rhode Island. In 2004, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts hired Ms. Mullen to manage this grassroots enterprise. President of Pinpoint Studios, a graphic design firm, Mullen spoke on the experiences of the arts community in Providence over the past twenty years. As expensive real estate developments prospered, artists living and working in substandard but inexpensive spaces were displaced. A coalition resulted, a collaborative group that included arts leaders, nonprofit developers, artists, architecture and design professionals, to respond to the crisis with strategies that incorporated all facets of the city. Deemed the “Sustainable Artist Space Initiative,” the coalition evaluated the needs as well as the obstacles of the displaced artists and the arts community. Outreach included working with non-profit developers, to make the case that artists fall within their income guidelines and target populations; joining municipal boards, such as citywide rezoning efforts; rallying the press; and collaborating with national efforts.
The coalition also worked directly with artists, holding free workshops for individuals looking for space on personal finance, lending, and working with an architect. It identified artist/developers to serve individuals within the artist community looking to redevelop small industrial buildings.
Involvement in the political and financial institutions that controlled building development led the coalition to plan and create spaces specifically tailored to artist and community needs. By working together, artists, city officials, and businesses created a variety of successful living and working developments tailored to the demands of their community.
STUDY SHOWS $169.11 MILLION IN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY AND
The Lehigh Valley Arts Council is proud to anounce the results of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts industry in the Lehigh Valley region. These local results were compiled as part of the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States. Entitled Arts & Economic Prosperity III, the study was conducted in 156 communities and regions (116 cities and counties, 35 multi-county regions, and 5 states) including the Lehigh Valley region. Lehigh Valley Arts Council helped to facilitate the gathering of the detailed economic data from 85 arts and cultural organizations in Lehigh, Carbon and Northampton Counties that were among 6,080 local arts organizations surveyed nationwide. Americans for the Arts, which conducted the national study, is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America.
The local data reveals that the Lehigh Valley’s nonprofit arts industry generates $169.11 million in economic activity annually, including:
The $169.11 million includes $68.6 million in spending by arts organizations and $100.5 million in event-related spending by arts audiences, excluding the cost of admission. The $100.5 million in event-related spending by arts audiences reflects an average of $26.56 per person in spending for hotels, restaurants, parking, souvenirs, refreshments, or other similar costs—with non-local attendees spending nearly twice as much as local attendees ($22.73 compared to $35.91). This compares to $155.3 million in economic impact in the greater Buffalo, NY region, which has a population of 1.25 million.
Nationally, according to Americans for the Arts report, the nonprofit arts industry generates 5.7 million jobs and $166.2 billion in total economic activity every year, resulting in $29.6 billion in federal, state, and local government revenues. The $166.2 billion total includes $63.1 billion in spending by arts organizations and $103.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences. The total economic activity has a significant national impact, generating the following:
“This study is a myth buster,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Most Americans understand that the arts improve our quality of life. This study demonstrates that the arts are an industry that stimulates the economy in cities and towns across the country. A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive.”
The nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry has grown steadily since the first analysis by Americans for the Arts in 1992, expanding at a rate greater than inflation. Between the second study conducted in 2000 and 2005, spending by organizations and their audiences grew 24 percent, from $134 billion to $166.2 billion in total economic activity.
The Lehigh Valley was one of only 24 communities that was part of the previous study and established a benchmark for comparison. In 2002, the study revealed $113 million in economic impact compared to the current $169.11 million. That means the Lehigh Valley experienced a 50% growth—more than double the national average.
The Arts & Economic Prosperity III study shows thatnonprofits arts support more jobs than accountants and auditors, public safety officers, and even lawyers, and just slightly fewer than elementary school teachers. Spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations provide rewarding employment for more than just artists, curators, and musicians but they also directly support builders, plumbers, accountants, printers, and an array of occupations.
In addition, the study reveals that the nonprofit arts industry is the cornerstone of tourism. The $103.1 billion in event-related spending by arts audiences reflects an average of $27.79 per person in spending for hotels, restaurants, parking, souvenirs, refreshments, or other similar costs—with non-local attendees spending twice as much as local attendees ($40.19 vs. $19.53). When a community attracts cultural tourists, it harnesses significant economic rewards.