Arts pump $154M into Madison-area economy

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Overture Center for the Arts

Art is many things, and the Madison area recently learned that one of those things is big business. A study found that arts and cultural activities annually pump $145 million into the Dane County economy.

“This report affirms what we’ve known for so many years: Dane County’s arts and culture community, fueled by highly talented individuals and creative industries, contin- ues to be an important sector of our local economy,” said county executive Joe Parisi.

The study, released in June, was conducted by Americans for the Arts, an advocacy and research nonprofit group based in Washing- ton, D.C.The report includes indirect spend- ing by audiences.

For example, not counting the ticket price, an individual county resident on average spends $20.79 to attend an arts or cultural event – by having a meal at a restaurant, and so on. A non-county resident visiting the Madison area spends an average of $43.78.

All that spending creates an additional $13.8 million in revenue for state and local governments, according to the study.

The findings “clearly demonstrate the scope, power and impact of the regional nonprofit arts sector for the economy and everyone in Dane County,” said Anne Katz, executive director of the Madison-based Arts Wisconsin, a statewide arts advocacy

organization. She hopes to use the study to promote the arts statewide.

“Arts Wisconsin and its strong network of advocates throughout the region and state will share this information widely, to continue to show how much the arts create for Wis- consin and all of its communities,” she said.

According to the study, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations directly spent more than $69 million in fiscal year 2010, the most recent for which data were available. In addi- tion, audiences of nearly 3 million people spent an additional $76 million.

The study reflects only the economic activity of the 49 Dane County organizations that provided data. It does not extrapolate data to encompass the entire nonprofit arts and culture industry, which means the results are likely a conservative estimate. Further, it does not include the for-profit arts and entertainment sector, including industries such as film production, cinemas, music stores and rock concerts.

“This study shines a much-needed light on the vital role the arts play in stimulat- ing and sustaining economic development,” announced Richard Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, upon its release. “Contrary to popular belief, the arts are a bustling industry that supports a plethora of diverse jobs, generate significant revenues for local businesses and the federal, state and local governments and provide quality of life

that positions communities to compete in our 21st-century creative economy.”

The study compares Dane County to communities of similar size, with populations between 250,000 and a half million. Arts and cultural spending in the Madison area is nearly double the median for similar regions in the study.

“That’s one of the most important find- ings,” said Robert Chappell, director of stra- tegic communication for Madison’s primary civic venue, the Overture Center for the Arts. “That says something about our community’s collective commitment to the arts.What that tells me is that the greater Madison area is a place where the arts will always be important and thrive.”

In 2008, Americans for the Arts released a survey of arts spending and employment in all 50 states, based on figures culled from Dun and Bradstreet. That study showed that Wis- consin’s overall arts employment grew 4.19 percent from January 2007 to January 2008. In south-central Wisconsin, arts employment was even more robust, with an increase of 10.62 percent.

The survey ranked Wisconsin 20th in the nation for its number of arts businesses, but 44th for the number of arts workers who were paid. In other words, Wisconsin stretches its arts dollars by adding a lot of volunteer hours.

The recent study was commissioned by

the Dane County Arts and Economic Pros- perity Collaborative, whose members include the county’s cultural affairs commission, the city of Madison Arts Commission, the Over- ture Center for the Arts and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arts Institute.

The report, including its methodology, can be downloaded at aepdane.

Overture reaches fundraising goal

Overture Center Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Overture Cen- ter for the Arts, reached its fundraising goal for fiscal year 2012, bringing in $2.365 million in donations and pledges before July 1.

The foundation nearly tripled the total contributions of the previous year. The fiscal year 2013 budget, approved by the OCF board of directors on June 26, includes another fundraising goal of $2.4 million in donations and pledges. It anticipates increases in both revenues and expenses for the center’s tour- ing Broadway series, which includes 80 performances, up from 33 in fiscal year.