That Flagstaff is a major hub for the arts and sciences in Northern Arizona is no secret. But the sheer size of this sector’s impact on our local economy might come as a surprise to you.
Five years ago, a study by Americans for the Arts, a leading national non-profit arts organization, concluded that the sector has an almost $73 million economic impact annually in the greater Flagstaff area.
The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study of 2012 was based upon information collected by Flagstaff Cultural Partners (now known as the Flagstaff Arts Council). It included financial statements from 37 local non-profit arts, culture and science organizations, plus more than 1,300 surveys of attendees of arts and cultural performances the prior year.
The findings showed that the sector supports almost 2,500 jobs in the region; generates more than $7 million in local, county and state taxes; and that for every $1 the City of Flagstaff invests in the arts and sciences (primarily through the BBB tax), $64 is pumped back into the economy.
Flagstaff is not unique in this respect. In fact, a white paper from the American Planning Association on how the arts affects economic vitality noted that communities from Tampa to Taos were using local arts and culture venues to attract visitors, residents and new businesses.
“The recognition of a community’s arts and culture assets (and the marketing of them) is an important element of economic development,” the study noted. “Creatively acknowledging and marketing community assets can attract a strong workforce and successful firms, as well as help sustain a positive quality of life.”
Now the Flagstaff Arts Council is collecting information for an update of the Arts and Economic Prosperity study. In addition to providing a comparison to the 2012 numbers, the revised study will show how the sector has fared since the end of the Great Recession, which hit the arts community particularly hard.
The new information will be released during a presentation by the Flagstaff Arts Council at 3:30 pm, Wednesday, Sept. 13 at Northern Arizona University’s Ashurst Auditorium. For more information, call the arts council at (928) 779-2300.
It’s heartening to know that the next time you go on a First Friday art walk, attend a play at Theatrikos, visit the Lowell Observatory, or enjoy a performance of the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, you are supporting a multi-million dollar sector that employs your friends and neighbors, contributes to the area’s economic vitality, and elevates the quality of life we enjoy in our region.