The Economics Of Art

Apr 20, 2017

Rapid City Arts Council education room
Credit chynna lockett

Art is often a selling factor for businesses looking to expand to a community. Many people attending performances spend money at local stores and restaurants. Organizations around the state are taking action to measure the economic impact of art.

The Rapid City and Sioux Falls Arts Councils are both participants of the Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 study this year. Pepper Massey is the Executive Director of the Rapid City Arts Council.

“And the purpose of that study was to drill down and speak to arts and cultural organizations and artists and people that attended arts events to find out what is the economic impact of the arts in our community.”

The study is conducted by the Americans for the Arts. Massey says support for events in Rapid City come from both urban and rural areas round the state.

“One of the troubling thoughts that is circulating these days is that people in rural communities, blue collar workers, farmer’s ranchers, people that are outside of the elite realm perhaps aren’t interested in involving themselves, participating in the arts or supporting the arts. And I would suggest that notion is untrue.”

Massey says she sees people from all walks of life creating art and attending events. She says people from every economic background can find a way to support the arts weather it’s through volunteering time or donating money.

“We have a thriving arts community not only in Rapid City but in the Black Hills region. But considering where we are, we don’t have the opportunities you would have in a Minneapolis or a Denver or a Los Angeles and New York. So, we need to support what we have here. And we can’t continue to provide the quality of arts, culture in the merit and the many forms that it’s offered in this region if it isn’t supported.”

The Sioux Falls Arts Council recently launched an action plan for organizing events in the city. Kara Dirkson is the Executive Director.

“What we’re doing is connecting the pieces, maybe providing a coherent marketing effort and promotion effort—pulling all of those forces together. But the actual experiences are carried out by those programing entities.”

Dirkson says they hope to create an arts event that will draw in residents from across the state and tourists. She says the Economic Prosperity 5 study measures the impact that people attending art events have on local businesses. Surveyors ask questions like…

“What do they do as part of their cultural or art experience. Are they spending money at local businesses? Are they going out to eat? Are they paying for parking? Are they using a hotel when they’re coming for these events? So it tries to capture a broad picture of the amount of economic activity generated by those arts and cultural organizations when they become destinations for people.”

Dirkson says the arts council is guided by the Sioux Falls long term community development plan. She says their goal is to ensure that the arts are integrated into the city’s growth and meaningfully affect the residents.

“So that when we talk about the role of businesses in our community when it comes to the Chamber of Commerce of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, there’s also a voice for the arts in those conversations. So the Arts Council is really trying to be that conduit for the arts community so that it’s recognized at the table with these other very important elements of our economic development and our quality of life.”

The results from the Economic Prosperity 5 study are scheduled to be released in June. They will show data collected from over 300 regions across the country.