Local arts and culture produce $72 million annually

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The Colorado Springs Philharmonic bolsters the economic impact of the arts in the region.

The nonprofit arts industry accounts for $72 million in annual economic impact across the Pikes Peak region, according to a study released on Tuesday by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region.

The study was conducted by Americans for the Arts, based in Washington, D.C., in tandem with identical studies in 182 other regions across the United States. This study focused solely on nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in El Paso and Teller counties. In all, 51 of 68 area organizations contacted responded to the survey and a total of 650 audience-intercept surveys were collected at 20 local nonprofit arts and cultural events throughout 2011.

The study also documented that:

Total attendance at arts and culture events in greater Colorado Springs is 1.3 million annually. Of those attendees, 87 percent are local and 13 percent are non-residents.

5,291 volunteers donated 106,592 hours to nonprofit arts organizations, with an estimated value of $2.3 million. This contribution, significant though it may be, was not included in the overall economic impact figure.

Three-quarters of surveyed organizations provide special programming to children and youth, both in the school system and after school.

Using the survey metrics adopted by Americans for the Arts, the local nonprofit arts industry generates $72 million in economic activity annually, including 2,168 full-time equivalent jobs, $4.3 million in local government tax revenues and $2.2 million in state government tax revenues.

The calculation of economic impact is 22 percent higher than a similar survey in 2007, which pegged the economic impact at $59 million a year.

How did Arts in America arrive at these figures?

According to the full study (available online at coppercolo.org), “Arts & Economic Prosperity IV uses a sophisticated economic analysis called input-output analysis to measure economic impact. It is a system of mathematical equations that combines statistical methods and economic theory.

It’s a common methodology, but there’s no universally accepted set of economic assumptions that quantify economic impact. Authors of such plans may plug in whatever economic multipliers they deem appropriate, and claim that the results are the product of “sophisticated economic analysis.”

Applying the Arts in America input-output model to the Pikes Peak region gives these results: $100,000 of direct spending by regional nonprofit arts and culture organizations results in 2.78 jobs, resident household income of $66,007, local government revenue of $3,806, and state government revenue of $2,714.

These figures seem impressive, but regional totals are well below the median of similar study areas, defined as those with populations between 500,000 and 1,000,000.

Direct expenditures by arts and culture nonprofits in the Pikes Peak region totaled $37.5 million, less than half the national median of $88.2 million. That spending created 1,043 jobs, far fewer than the national median of 3,212.

Nevertheless, local arts supporters were pleased by the results.

“The arts do more than just improve our quality of life. The arts are an essential element of revitalization: They support local jobs, are magnets for tourists, and generate millions of dollars in economic impact for the region,” said COPPeR board member Chris Jenkins.