Art Helps Drive Local Economy, Advocates Say

Mar 31, 2015

Credit City of Chico

Performances, art shows and public art are more than mere cultural enrichment, they also fuel the local economy. 

That’s the summation of a long-awaited report that arts organizations hope will convince political leaders in Chico to restore some funding to the arts, artists and art-related events. 

Direct city funding was largely eliminated due to budget shortfalls in the wake of the implosion of housing bubble.

Randy Cohen, vice president of Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts, a Washington, D.C.,-based advocacy group hired to conduct a survey and prepare a report, said art can be a powerful economic driver. Cohen presented findings showing that art and cultural events support the equivalent of 451 full-time jobs in Chico.

Cohen said that nonprofit art organizations spent nearly $9 million annually on everything from costumes to sets to printing, accounting and electricians, with much of that staying in the local community. Ancillary spending by audiences attending an event, excluding ticket sales — on items from babysitters to restaurants to hotel rooms — pumped another nearly $9 million into the local economy, Cohen said.

The presentation, at the City Council chamber Monday evening, was attended by members of scores of different art organizations, along with Mayor Mark Sorensen and several City Council members.