Sunday, November 26, 2006

Economic Impact of Arts

I've looked at several studies of the economic impact of the arts & culture industries, and the results are quite amazing. For a review, check out Arts and Economic Prosperity from Americans for the Arts.

Santa Fe NM has the largest proportion of artists, performers, and writers as a share of total employment of any city in the country. Also, the contribution of the arts to the economy in Sante Fe exceeds that of any other city. Thus, Sante Fe is a huge success story that we could emulate. Here is one amazing statistic from their study that describes perfectly the economic benefit of the arts. The volume of dollars brought into Sante Fe by the arts is roughly equal to that contributed to the whole state of New Mexico by the Intel Corporation, the largest private sector employer. (Of course, Intel gets lots of tax breaks, like most manufacturers.) Wouldn't this be wonderful?

Arts are not just for the elite. A national study found that over half the American public attends an arts event every year. Arts are also good for business. A Delaware study found that 88% of businesses report that arts are an inportant criteria of quality of life, a third of businesses cite the arts when recruiting new employees, and half of business contribute to the arts. Delaware arts organizations return about $15 back to the community for every $1 contributed. (Compare with casinos that costs taxpayers $3 for $1 paid in taxes.)

In the mid 1990's, Wilmington Delaware had an exhaustive search for new ways to revitalize its downtown. Guess what it came up with? Based on the Savannah GA experience, they opened the Delaware College of Art and Design in 1997, and it's a terrific success. Wilmington liked the benefits of the arts so much that shortly thereafter it opened the Riverfront Art Center. (Look at this and drool!)

While looking through all these studies, I noticed a continuing emphasis on the fact that art brings in money from outside the community. This is important because local spending does not create new jobs or income. Local spending only redistributes existing dollars, whereas funds coming from elsewhere create new jobs and new sources of income. For example, in the Sante Fe study, 78% of the total revenue from the arts in Sante Fe is from outside the county. For the state of Delaware, it was over half - and that was reported before the full benefit of the college and riverfront development had occurred.

Now contrast this with casinos who draw mostly from the local area. This just takes money we are currently spending in our community and sends it to some gazillionaires in Vegas. Smart? Oh well, no one ever accused our city leaders of being brilliant.

An art economy is so perfect for Natchez - if only we had city leaders with a little imagination. We somehow have to figure out how to keep them from destroying the riverfront before we can kick them out of office.


Anonymous said...

City leaders in Natchez has no appreciation for well thought out planning initiatives. They are accustomed to a "quick fix" maneuver that will only make things worse. This happens when there is no vision.

Again, "Where There Is No Vision, The People Perish."

The cities that are cited in the above comment have dynamic leadership. If you research the history of these communities, the initiatives that have come to fruition were citizen driven ideas that received local elected official support. They were not "selfish" and "I-ME-MY" type of deals.

Natchez will not enjoy any of these type of developments because our leadership, excuse me...., elected officials, are total "screw ups."

Maybe the new slate of officials that we will elect in 2008 will appreciate citizen initiated and citizen driven initiatives.

DO YOUR RESEARCH...... All successful communities have a high level of citizen involvement in the government process. This is basic Civics.

Why is it so hard for our elected officials to buy into this?

I forgot, so many of them have been bought for so long until it is hard for them to buy anything.

New to Art said...

C'mon, anonymous. Give the leaders a break. They are just learning about this concept. I didn't know about it either until I began reading this blog thing. If they read all these links they will understand the benefits. Maybe if we stop bashing them so much they will be more inclined to listen.

Anonymous said...

Those of us who've attended City Council meeting after meeting would love to give these guys a break. We've offered them opportunity to comment, to interact with us, to listen to our concerns, ideas. Phillip West stated in the newspaper that he wanted to keep the riverfront development (casino) proposition a secret because he felt it was so important. Perhaps; but I think he didn't want us to know because he's fearful that another casino will meet with public opposition. That conclusion came out in a meeting when someone stood before them and said "casinos are a hot-button issue...people don't want Natchez to become a casino town...". And, from my reading anytime a casino is pushed into a community it's done in secret and very, very quickly before the opposition has time to react. This is a defiant board who have forgotten they serve at the pleasure of the citizenry. But, "anonymous", I hope you're right. I hope they refrain from ruining what we already have going for us...a beautiful riverfront, as yet unmarred by condos, casinos,casino hotels, high-rise scarring on the face of our city.

Anonymous said...

Is the Isle of Capri "Marring" our Riverfront? I don't think so.
It is unreasonable to assume the city would just take all development proposals that they receive and immediatley toss them out to the public to kick around. NO DEAL would ever come to fruition that way. That is NOT how business (and especially government business)is done, not here, not anywhere, and rightly so.

Let's stay on point said...

This is not about the Isle of Capris versus "the arts." The Isle of Capri has been a good corporate citizen. Let's hope they continue to be. So, let's leave them out of this and try to keep the discussion centered on the economic impact of the arts.

Anonymous said...

In response to the statement that it is unreasonable to "toss out to the public" for input. Everytime I read about a city picking itself up and finding a way to bring economic progress there's always a point made that it took an involved community with open government asking it's community for participation. I disagree with you entirely. It's our city, our business, our future.

Anonymous said...

This comment shows just how high the level of community stupidity we have in Natchez.

It is evident by this comment that Natchez is in a sad state.

Anonymous said...

Don't know which comment you are referring to? Is Natchez in a sad state because leaders don't care about community consensus? Or is Natchez in a sad state because the community thinks they should have some input on the future of their community?

Artistic Ole Fart said...

Anonymous above at 4:43pm is right!

Real estate and development negotiations cannot take place in public. No way! And that doesn't happen elsewhere either. No, not even in Savanah. If it did, seldomly would there be progress of any sort.

That's why the law gives governing bodies a closed executive session in which to conduct transactions of business and discussions regarding the prospective purchase, sale or leasing of lands.

And by law, records regarding and related to real estate appraisals and real estate negotiations are closed to the public prior to an announcement of a contract for purchase or sale, if the release of such records could have a detrimental effect on the transaction.

This is state law. No different here than anywhere else.

artistic ole fart said...

Does a citizen have the right to participate in a public meeting?

"A citizen spectator or news reporter is not a participant and cannot interfere with discussion, deliberation or the decision-making process of the governing body." Hinds Co. Bd. of Supervisors v. Common Cause, 551 So. 2d 107, 110 (Miss. 1989).

Any Ideas? said...

Yes, AOF - - BUT - - any citizen has a right to ask to be put on the agenda and may then speak his/her mind about issues. All a citizen may then do is wait and pray that the officials they elected will listen to their concerns. Given the antics I've observed from time to time in the council chambers, (aldermen bashing department heads and insulting each other) this prayer probably falls on deaf ears. It's a minor miracle these people get anything done - even the wrong thing! I will say that alderman Gray, long winded as he is, seems to pay attention to the requests of the people in his district, none of whom ever seem to appear at the meetings. Do you, AOF, have any suggestions about what could be done to make the voters feel more included? Most people I know just laugh at the idea of representatives being responsible to the citizenry.

Let's Vote said...

People keep writing that we "voted for casinos". How long ago was that? I wasn't here then, but I wonder if there has been any referendum since Lady Luck/Isle of Capri moved under the hill. Does anybody know? Or does anyone know what the process is for getting another referendum? Is it a petition signed by so many people?

I think there would be an entirely different result if a vote were taken today, given all the better options for our town's economic growth. The possibilities I read about on this blog would seem to be for the benefit of everybody in town. Why can't we wait and not jump into another unwise decision. Our riverfront isn't going away (or is it?) What's the rush?

Anonymous said...

I've been researching this.

The vote was in 1990.

By state law, there is no vote unless those opposed to Casinos can get enough votes to force a referendum. Otherwise, gambling is automatically approved.

In 1990, citizens headed by a local Baptist minister, Dale Little, secured enough signatures to force a referendum, and voters went to the polls in November 1990.

6,031 voted yes; 5,242 voted no.

The gambling developer acknowledged spending about $300,000 on a slick campaign billed as "riverfront development."

Gambling was supported by The Natchez Democrat, the Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, the Economic Development Authority, and the Mayor and most of the Aldermen.

Anonymous said...

so......... "we" voted 16 years ago for "gambling?"

maybe it's time for another vote!

Anonymous said...

so......... "we" voted 16 years ago for "gambling?"

maybe it's time for another vote!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if we have the opportunity to force a referendum each time a new gaming industry comes to town, or was that one vote 16 years ago the only opportunity.

Now that we've had 16 years worth of experience with casinos, maybe times have changed?