Published: Jun 26, 2012 05:05 PM
Modified: Jun 26, 2012 05:06 PM
Study puts cash value on Cary’s arts scene
Group estimates hundreds work at Cary arts groups
CARY - By Andrew Kenney Can you put hard data on the finer arts? A national arts organization thinks so, and it released its findings about Cary last week.In fiscal 2010, at least 400 people worked in arts-related jobs here, and attendance at cultural events surpassed 350,000 people, according to the study by Americans for the Arts, an advocacy group. Audiences spent a sum about $5 million at businesses around Cary, excluding admission, the group says.The data, which covers 182 regions, including Wake County, is meant to support “objective decisions ... that enable the production of that which is subjective,” said Jerry Bolas, director of the Raleigh Arts Commission. It’s also meant to show that communities get a return on the money they put into art. “You need a quiver of case-making arrows for the arts,” said Randy Cohen of Americans for the Arts.Americans for the Arts surveyed 832 attendees at cultural events and performances in Cary. Based on 834 local surveys and more than 150,000 nationally, the group estimated that audiences spent about $5 million in Cary. The average visitor spent about $14 on meals, gifts, transportation and lodging, the report states.A key benefit of cultural activities, Americans for the Arts argues in its report, is that out-of-towners spend significantly more per person when they come to see arts in Cary, drawing outside revenue into the local economy. Economists with the Georgia Institute of Technology provided some of the report’s figures.Americans for the Arts also surveyed 37 of Cary’s 63 identified nonprofit arts groups, from the American Turkish Association to the Cary Clay Cooperative. The report estimates those businesses put $4.2 million back into the local economy, and says the actual sum of spending is likely higher, as not all groups participated.If the numbers are accurate, they could illustrate the intangible benefits of cultural programs that often run in the red. In the next budget year, Cary expects to spend about $5 million on its cultural arts program, facilities and donations to arts nonprofits, including some administrative costs that overlap with the parks program. The town government projects that the cultural spending will return about $750,000 back in revenue, according to the budget – and Americans for the Arts argues Cary’s investment will generate millions more for local businesses and workers.
Kenney: 919-460-2608 or twitter.com/KenneyOnCary