Brattleboro Citizens' Breakfast October 19, 2012 Gibson-Aiken Center - Brattleboro VT The Economic Impact of the Arts Video

Link Presenters: Doug Cox , President, Arts Council of Windham County - Pam Leirle, Managing Director, Brattleboro Music Center - Doug began with a brief overview of the Arts Council, “your community arts hub,” which “can put you in touch with people and resources you need to make artistic connections in Windham County, “according to it’s website. The ACWC provides “fiscal umbrella for fledgling art organizations, and small arts projects.” cf: The Arts Council produced the brochure “The Art Lover’s Guide to Events in Windham County 2012” with support from the Chamber of Commerce as a vehicle for regional marketing. Another goal of the Council is to network and connect artists. An example of this the November 7th artist forum, “Funding sources for the Arts,” to be held at Cotton Mill. The Council partnered with the Americans for the Arts which has conducted four national studies of the economic impact of the arts and two in this area. A prior study was conducted to include non-profit arts organizations in the Greater Brattleboro area and now all organizations in Windham Co. are being included. Information was solicited from 90 organizations and 42 were included in the study. Data from submitted financials, attendance and program information was gathered. Audiences were also surveyed; 650 persons participated in the survey. The survey sought information on how much was being spent in addition to ticket sales. The report, Arts and Economic Prosperity in Windham County, is available on-line: Only non-profit arts organizations were included in the survey. Direct spending was reported as $7.5 million generating 228 FTE jobs. Audience spending, excluding ticket sales, amounted to another $3.2 million generating 102 FTE jobs and $1.5 million in wages. The report compares these results with outcomes for Pittsfield MA and three counties in other states having similar populations. One observation is that the arts sector in Windham Co. is underperforming in the sense that ratio of local attendees to out of towners is less than average, with about ¼ of the audience being from out-town. 1 This points to an area of investment: get more non-residents to attend performances in Windham Co.


The non-resident to resident audience ratio of 1:4 for Windham Co. compares unfavorably to the 2:1 average. See p. 13 of the Report.

Because the per person expenditure of non-residents is four times that of Windham County residents,the notion of attracting visiting audiences to local events provides a simple, strong economic incentive. 2 Pam Leirle noted that we often think of non-profit institutions as doing good in the community. even if we don’t participate directly in them, they are of benefit because their activities add to the community. She also noted that the Report only takes into account non-profit entities. If the for-profit arts organizations were included, it is estimated that the total economic impact would be tripled to about $30 million. To put that number in context, the Brattleboro Town budget is $15 million, 3 the Town of Rockingham budget is about $5 million and Sovernet’s revenue is in the range of $10-12 million. If the Arts Community generates $30 million in revenue, it is a significant part of the economy. It brings money and respect into the community; the money tends to stay in the community. Non-profit arts organizations are also more recession resilient. They keep offering programs and thereby keep the economy going even in bad economic times. . . . because arts and culture organizations are strongly rooted in their community, these are jobs that necessarily remain local and cannot be shipped overseas. 4 While not a quantitative outcome, it is safe to say that we experience a better quality of life here because of the arts. The arts presence also helps other businesses recruit employees. Most people are now aware that Smithsonian Magazine rated Brattleboro as number 11 in its list of “The 20 Best Small Towns in America.” In doing so, the magazine noted the Brattleboro arts community, “Brattleboro takes pride in its reputation as a hidden artistic haven.” 5 Brattleboro is the recipient of a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for cultural asset mapping and cultural district planning. 6 The Brattleboro Music Center - - with a yearly budget of $800,000 and 22 FTE jobs is definitely a significant player in the local arts community. Pam reiterated a key observation from the Report: Communities that recognize arts and culture as a powerful, smart economic sector and that invest in their own communities’ creative assets reap the additional benefits of jobs,

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p. 12 Total Expenditures for FY 2012 - $ 14,777,294.00. 2011 Annual Report, Town of Brattleboro p.76 4 p. 15 5 Read more: 6

economic growth, and a quality of life that favorably positions those communities to move forward sustainably and competitively. 7 Discussion Period: Forty-one organizations responded to the survey. That is less than half of those in the County. The reported $7.5 million in direct spending includes both earned income and grants; the mix of each would vary for each organization. Thirty-nine organizations provided full reports. The $7.5 million figure is accurate for those organizations reporting; conceivably the real total for all 90 organizations would be higher, but the sample did include the major players. There were 3-4 local versus each non-resident attendee. Comparisons with Pittsfield and the other counties encourages thinking about opportunities and also about a physical location for the arts in Windham Co. An “Arts Corridor” would seem to include BMAC, Latchis, NEYT and BMC. Currently, there is no funding to market outside the local community, but doing so would have the best potential for growth. VPR sponsorship for concerts, for example, the Northern Roots Festival, is a way of getting the word out. Arts are not a black hole economically. 8 Indeed, the money spent on the arts stays in the community more than money spent on other items. In terms of working on drafting a design of a cultural district, it is interesting that MA and LA are leading the way. VT, at the state level, is thinking about it. None of the models include money. The NEA grant has a $100,000 budget, with $50,000 coming from the NEA and $50,000 from Brattleboro including staff time. This is a two year process in beginning stages. We need to ask about the value of inputs, building on previous impact of society and have ways to measure benefits. One difference between Windham Co. and one of the counties listed in the report is the existence of a major Shakespearean festival. It is worthwhile to look at other communities to seek out what they do better. The concern was voiced that if developing Brattleboro into an esteemed arts venue is too successful, the area may become so rarified that “in the end, most of the artists, won't be able to live here either.” “We need to be careful what we wish for.”

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“When funds are eventually spent non--‐locally, they are considered to have leaked out of the community and cease having a local economic impact. Indirect impact is the sum of all the rounds of re-spending.” p. 9

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