Friday, March 22, 2013

Make Art Work Meeting in Peoria

We drove to Peoria's new Riverfront Museum yesterday (3-21-13)  to participate in a program called MAKE ART WORK sponsored jointly by Arts Alliance Illinois and ArtsPartners of Central Illinois.  The purpose was to explore how the arts support jobs, generate revenue for governments, attract tourists, and spark human creativity on all levels.  

The keynote speaker was Randy Cohen, Vice President for Research and Policy for Americans for the Arts.    His primary purpose was to highlight a major national economic study on the  contributions of the arts to our national economy.  The three county area around Peoria, IL was a part of this study and to localize his talk he concentrated on the figures from the state of Illinois and the Peoria area. 

If you need a couple of key statistics to insert into a grant application or to offer in a conversation with someone enamored with cutting the so called "frill" areas out of budgets, here are a few items.    Non-profit Arts Organizations  contribute around  20.4  million dollars to the Greater Peoria economy and 2.75 billion dollars to the Illinois economy each year.  In the Peoria area over 14 million dollars of this comes in direct spending by arts and culture organizations in creating events, constructing and maintaining their buildings,  and paying their employees.  Another 6 million comes from ancilliary spending by consumers as they buy fuel or take public transport to get to places, purchase food and beverages,  shop at other commercial retail outlets, or pay for lodging during their stay.

The national study covered over 33,000 arts related businesses in Illinois and also pointed out that those businesses employ almost 80,000 people statewide and  account for 850 full time equivalent jobs in Peoria.  The study also emphasizes that most of the spending by arts agencies and their customers stays local and thus returns tax revenues to states and municipalities.

When cuts to the arts are proposed,  I suggest you stop trying to depend on the emotional arguments about cutting the arts as a cut in the quality of  people's lives and instead argue that cutting the arts cuts needed revenue for your community.   Yes the arts may give you an emotional lift and something to live for, but the real key is that "It makes economic sense to support the Arts!"

The crowd files in at the American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI last summer.
How can you help?  Tap into any or all of the organizations mentioned at the beginning of this article and give them some support.  I am a proud member of the Art Alliance Illinois and the Americans for the Arts. 

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