Most fans of the performing arts are willing to accept the premise that “art for art’s sake” is a legitimate reason for creation – the merits beyond that being the enjoyment artists and patrons share in their passion for drama, dance and musical performances.
But on some level, we all know that there’s a transactional side to the affair. And as a colleague once pointed out, it’s not called, “show fun” – it’s called “show business.” It is expected that every business provide value for services rendered, and beyond that, there is a requisite to partner in the growth of the community – to provide jobs, to support other local business and to be part of the engine of commerce.
According to the most recent study of Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts, it’s working. The national nonprofit arts industry generated 4.1 million jobs and $135.2 billion in total economic activity during 2010, resulting in $22.3 billion in federal, state and local government revenues. The $135.2 billion total included $61.1 billion in spending by arts organizations and an additional $74.1 billion in attendance-related spending by their audiences on items such as meals, local transportation and overnight lodging. Complete details about the 2010 study are available here.
It makes sense, then, that the Purple Rose Theatre Company has partnered with Americans for the Arts to participate in a new Arts & Economic Prosperity IV™ Economic Impact Study Service. The research study will evaluate the impact of spending by The Purple Rose Theatre Company and its audiences on the local economy.
“We are very excited to partner with Americans for the Arts for this Economic Impact Study. We believe the results will show that the arts and especially those in the not-for-profit sector, with particular emphasis on the Purple Rose, generate a significant number of jobs and revenue in Southeast Michigan,” said Guy Sanville, artistic director and chief operating officer of The PRTC.
For those of us who have planned anniversary weekends around theatre get-aways, organized dinner-and-a-show outings, or even grabbed a drink in town before or after the show, we know in our bones this is true. Theatre brings patrons. Patrons spend money when they're in town.
“Our Arts & Economic Prosperity series continues to demonstrate that the arts are a formidable industry that stimulates the economy in cities and towns across the country,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive.”