By Eleanor H. Oakley
President and CEO
Once every five years United Arts administers the Wake County portion of the Americans for the Arts Arts & Economic Prosperity study. More than 100 communities nationwide are taking part in this statistical study of how the nonprofit arts sector (see full definition below) impacts the community’s economy. Wake County is participating for the fourth time.
In June 2012, we announced the results of the previous study (2010 data): the sector was a $166.2 million industry in Wake County—one that supported 6,601 full-time equivalent jobs and generated $15.9 million in local and state government revenue resulting from arts attendee spending at restaurants, hotels, retail stores, parking garages and other businesses.
Arts & Economic Prosperity V, as it is called, will look at the amount of total budgets for nonprofit arts and cultural groups in Wake County; numbers of full-time and part-time employees; amount paid in salaries/contracts for personnel; numbers attending arts and cultural events; and other data from the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2015.
The study will also compile data from more than 1,200 audience intercept surveys collected at Wake County arts and cultural events during calendar year 2016. As an attendee, you will be asked about your spending over and above the admission price and whether you live in or outside Wake County, among other questions. The survey is anonymous and will be used to calculate the impact of arts activities from attendee spending. So please stop and complete one!
Who and what makes up the nonprofit arts sector? For the purposes of this study, the sector will include nonprofit arts organizations—dance, theatre, ballet, visual art, music symphony orchestras, opera, singing and choral groups, bands and ensembles, art museums, history museums; natural history and science museums; children’s museums, arts councils, folk arts, arts education, science and technology museums, historical organizations, historical societies and historic preservation, arts services, printing and publishing, libraries, radio, film and video, television, community celebrations, university presenters, unincorporated arts groups, research institutes and public policy analysis, alliances and advocacy, management and technical assistance, fund raising and fund distribution, municipal arts agencies, arts programs embedded under an umbrella of a non-arts organization or facility (such as a community center or church) performing arts centers and humanities—all produced or presented in a nonprofit format or by a government entity.
What isn’t there? Movies, for-profit art galleries and individual artists.
The United Arts Council, Office of Raleigh Arts and Town of Cary are jointly sponsoring the study this year and look forward to sharing the data with everyone in mid-2017. Raleigh and Cary will have separate reports tailored to their municipalities only, a subset of the Wake County whole. The State of North Carolina Arts Council is sponsoring the study for entire state and will release a report that compiles data for all 100 counties.
Considering that Wake County has added so many arts and cultural initiatives since the year 2010 (World of Bluegrass festival; African-American Cultural Festival; Wake Forest Renaissance Centre; Garner Performing Arts Center series; plus much more), it is certain that the economic impact of Wake’s nonprofit arts sector will have grown. We know that the arts impact our lives in many ways–some quantifiable and some not; this study provides one measure of the vibrant, growing arts community in Wake County. Be sure to take the opportunity to be counted!