A report released Friday by the Department of Economic and Community Development found that arts and culture nonprofits are big business in the state of Connecticut, generating $59.1 million in local and state government revenue in 2010.
The arts are a $653 million industry in Connecticut that supports 18,314 full-time jobs, according to the report. Collectively, the organizations spend $455.5 million annually, which in turn leverages $197.5 million in additional spending by audiences attending the theater or other events, pumping revenue into local restaurants, hotels, and parking garages.
“The nonprofit arts and culture industry in Connecticut currently generates more than 13 times the local government and state government revenues than the national average,” Kip Bergstrom, deputy commissioner of DECD, said in a press release.
The report was compiled by Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit arts organization. The state commission the group to conduct the study at a cost of $17,500.
“Arts and culture organizations are strongly rooted in their community, where these resilient and creative employers provide a diversity of local jobs that cannot be shipped overseas,” Bergstrom said.
In Connecticut, researchers estimated that 88.5 percent of the 9.2 million nonprofit arts attendees were state residents; 11.5 percent were non-residents.
Non-resident attendees spend an average of 65 percent more per person than local attendees ($35.39 vs. $21.50) as a result of their attendance at cultural events.
“When a community attracts cultural tourists, it harnesses significant economic rewards,” the report concluded.
One of the themes of the report is that “a vibrant arts community not only keeps residents and their discretionary spending close to home, it also attracts visitors who spend money and help local businesses thrive,” Vice President of Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts Randy Cohen said in a statement.
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said last week that arts organizations have been touting the report as a reason to spare them any state budget cuts.
He said the legislature understands that, “but we’ve got some very tough numbers we’re looking at.”
Neither party seems to want to rule out any possible budget scenario, as various constituencies fashion their arguments in hopes of avoiding the budget axe.
Rep. Toni Walker, co-chair of one of the budget writing committee’s, said bluntly last week: “There is no money.”
“There’s going to have to be a lot of belt-tightening,” Walker said. “But we’re going to have to be careful about where we reduce . . . to make sure we’re not cutting off our nose to spite our face.”
The $365 million the General Assembly will be forced to cut over the next few week to balance this year’s budget is just a prelude to the even more difficult cuts that will need to be made next year.