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Nonprofit arts generate $447.6 million for Seattle’s economy

Mayor Mike McGinn posted this message to his blog today. We’re pleased to share it.

Arts mean business. The nonprofit arts and culture industry in Seattle generates $447.6 million in annual economic activity, supporting 10,807 full-time equivalent jobs and delivering $38.2 million in local and state government revenues.

This according to Arts & Economic Prosperity IV: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences, the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States. The study’s findings were released today by Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit arts advocacy group. If you want to dig deeper, read the full Seattle report or the national report.

These impressive figures confirm nonprofit arts and culture is big business in Seattle. But it wasn’t always this way.

Before the 1962 World’s Fair here threw open the curtain to the world stage, Seattle was decades away from becoming a creative capital. As we mark the 50th anniversary of the fair, we celebrate the cultural legacy it left to the city. In the ensuing years, our arts and cultural offerings have exploded.

Today, Seattle’s creative vitality is nearly three times the national average—among the highest in the nation. The arts not only inspire and fuel discovery – they improve our quality of life, create jobs, help attract and retain business, make our city a major destination for tourists and play an important role in the economic revitalization of our community.

The study’s numbers help us tell the important story: The arts mean business in Seattle. And the arts give back. They are one of the few public investments that result in cultural, social and economic good.

As optimistic as this all sounds, Seattle’s arts and culture sector took its share of blows brought on by the Great Recession. At the same time, the industry has proven its resiliency and its vital role in our economic recovery.

According to Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, on any given night in Seattle, thousands of people are streaming into theaters, concert halls and museums. Their cultural consumption also feeds restaurants, retail shops and parking garages. In 2010, nearly 6 million people attended nonprofit arts events in Seattle.

I hope you will join me in sharing this study and its results to advocate for increased public and private investment in the arts. We must not underestimate the role of arts and culture. They are critical to our city’s success.

I applaud Seattle’s devoted artists, arts and cultural organizations, audience members, donors and volunteers for all they do to keep the arts strong in Seattle.