Arts industry means business

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June 13th, 2012

Omaha, NE – The arts industry means business. That was the message of local arts leaders in Omaha Wednesday, who presented a new study to back up their claims.

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“Of course we know the arts inspire, delight, unite us, they’re fundamental to our humanity,” Marjorie Maas, director of the arts advocacy group, Nebraskans for the Arts, told a press conference held at the Joslyn Art Museum. “I want to stipulate those benefits and challenge you to change the lens through which you view the arts and think of them as an industry – one that supports jobs, generates government revenue and is a prime driver of tourism.”

Maas was joined at the conference by local leaders, including Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, David Brown, to announce the results of a comprehensive national study, conducted by Americans for the Arts.

The study measured the economic impact of the nonprofit arts industries in 182 cities and showed a national economic impact of $135.2 billion. In Omaha, the nonprofit arts industry generated $89.9 million in economic activity in 2010 – the year the data was collected – and $9.1 million in local and state tax revenue. The figures show the multiplication effect of taxpayer investment in nonprofit arts groups, Maas said, which totaled just over $2 million statewide last year.

“You may wonder why the Chamber guy is up here.” Pointing to a slide showing the number of full-time jobs supported by the arts industry in Omaha (3,431), David Brown said “That’s why.”

A vibrant arts community helps attract businesses to the city, Brown said.

“Talk to any one of our members and they’ll tell you that for them to attract the right people here, for them to be successful as businesses,” Brown said, “they’ve got to have a collection of arrows in their quiver, if you will, that will create a sense of place and will create a quality of life that attracts people.”

Maas said Omaha’s contribution totals just over half the revenue generated by nonprofit arts institutions statewide.

Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle also attended the conference. He said Omaha has embraced the arts community, and the arts industry is doing more than its “fair share” in return.

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