Business Owners Applaud Growth of Dickson's Diva

by Serenah McKay  on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 9:33 am  

Paint by Numbers

Northwest Arkansas’ arts groups have hard evidence their value goes beyond sheer entertainment.

A study of the economic impact of 26 of the nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Benton and Washington counties revealed they generate nearly $46 million annually in economic activity.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity Study IV was conducted in 182 regions nationwide by Americans for the Arts, a national organization that supports the arts and art education through private and public resource development.

Using figures for fiscal 2010, economists from the Georgia Institute of Technology analyzed arts organizations’ economic impact in each region. The findings were released last month.

For Northwest Arkansas, the study found the 26 participating groups support 1,488 local full-time-equivalent jobs, paying nearly $30 million in household income to residents and $4 million to state and local governments.

Moreover, the number of jobs, revenue and total impact nearly tripled since the study was last conducted in 2005. And that impact is well above average when compared to regions of similar population.

The study also found that arts audiences spend an average of $20 above the cost of a ticket when they attend an arts or cultural event, while tourists spend an additional $36.

In addition, 76 percent of tourists surveyed at an arts event said they made their trip specifically to attend that event.

An accompanying report on the study’s methodology states it’s important to note no estimates were made to account for the approximately 60 organizations in Northwest Arkansas that didn’t participate. That suggests “an understatement” of the economic findings in the region, according to the report.

A project like the WAC expansion stands to benefit not just Dickson Street or Fayetteville, but the entire region, said Mike Malone, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, a nonprofit organization that works to promote economic development in the region.

“The arts and cultural offerings are so important to our existing residents, but we find they’re also vital to attracting talent and recruiting business to the region,” he said. “So expanded offerings, expanded facilities, more programs are all a big part of not only serving existing residents but also recruiting talent and recruiting businesses.”

Malone said he knows firsthand folks come a long way for events and performances here.

“I’ve talked to people seated next to me at performances and events, and they’re coming from Branson, from Tulsa, from other parts of Arkansas,” he said. “It becomes a tourism draw, but then it also helps people see that there’s a lot to do here if they move here.

“The benefits are great for the whole area.”



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