For Immediate Release :: October 25, 2012
Press Contact: Roberto Bedoya | 520.624.0595 x 25 | RBedoya@TucsonPimaArtsCouncil.org
Are the Arts a Boon or a Drain?
Reports Highlight Arts’ Impact on Our Region’s Economy
If Tucson’s economy is at times overshadowed by Phoenix, the arts sector in Tucson and Pima County represents a beacon of economic vitality, one that in certain respects outshines its northern counterpart, as well as other mid-sized metropolitan regions around the nation.
Fine and good, you might say, but can the arts sector help to revive a hard-pressed economy? When it comes to the arts, do you get much bang for your buck? The answer is yes.
According to Roberto Bedoya, Executive Director of the Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC), “We have long said the arts are an important engine for our region’s economic growth. But now we have the numbers to prove it.”
The numbers to which Bedoya refers come from two recent reports: Arts & Economic Prosperity and the Local Arts Index.  These important national studies of economic trends in the arts were conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. As one of 182 participants, nationwide, TPAC assisted in capturing local data for inclusion and analysis in these studies. To that end, TPAC enlisted 49 local arts organizations as partners and surveyed 827 audience members, as well as provided on-the-ground advice.
The news is surprising. According to the findings, the nonprofit arts sector generates an impressive $87.7 million in annual revenue. This translates into 2,602 full-time jobs, $3.83 million in local government revenue and $4.29 million in state government revenue. Moreover, the combined nonprofit and for-profit arts sector constitutes an impressive 5.08% percent of all Tucson and Pima County industry.
The economic and participation return achieved here is extraordinary, given that the arts receive only 20% of average per capita funding from local governments as compared to the national average.
TPAC Executive Director, Roberto Bedoya, with support from the TPAC Board of Directors and the region’s arts providers, is hoping City and County officials will be persuaded to double their investment in the arts from $1 to $2 per resident per year—still only 40% of the national average, which is $5 per capita.
Says Bedoya, “With these two reports, we can now show, for the first time, how vital the arts are to the health of our local economy and the degree to which the arts provide an important return on community investment. Increasing their support for the arts to $2 per person is the best investment the City and County can make!”
Comparing Tucson and Its Neighbors: A Greater Cut of the Arts Pie
The Arts & Economic Prosperity report looks at the nonprofit arts sector, covering museums, opera, dance and theater companies, symphony orchestras, arts education centers and groups, and the like. The Local Arts Index includes all of the above plus for-profit ‘creative industries,’ the data for which was drawn from Dun & Bradstreet. Examples of creative industries are architecture, design and advertising firms, music clubs, movie theaters, galleries, film companies, crafts artisans and fabricators.
When measured against Maricopa and San Diego Counties, the picture grows more interesting: per capita, Tucson and Pima County’s 5.08% share of the creative industry pie is greater than either of the other two counties—let alone the national average, which is a mere 2.02%. What this means is that percentage-wise the people of Tucson and Pima County are bigger producers and consumers of the arts.
Tucson and Pima County compare favorably with Maricopa County in the ability to draw a comparable percentage of the population to arts and culture attractions (36% and nearly 35%, respectively). In fact, in 2010, 1.9 million arts event attendees generated $44.94 million for Tucson and Pima County (excluding the cost of admission)—and this was during a recession.
Arts and culture also help to shore up Pima County’s important tourism industry: some $8.2 million derives from out-of-town tourists, who spend on average 81% more than local attendees. While a majority of these tourists travel to Tucson for the purpose of attending a specific cultural event, as ‘big spenders’ they benefit area restaurants, hotels, shops and transportation.
On a regional scale, Tucson and Pima County’s arts sector is both highly productive and highly competitive. Relative to Maricopa and San Diego, our arts industry is flourishing. “But of course,” Bedoya advises, “there remains room for improvement.” Tucson’s arts organizations, whose funding was dramatically slashed during the economic downturn, have barely begun to recover.
“Moreover,” Bedoya points out, “given the important role played by the arts in placemaking—in making our communities more attractive places to live and in lending value to people’s lives, which in turn helps to draw in new industry and talent—the arts require increased support of our communities and businesses. But it is validating to know that the arts play such a vital role in stimulating the economy.”
Beyond that, Pima County’s share of artists and creative industries far surpasses the regional average, meaning more people and resources are employed to bring the arts into our communities and schools. Enriching the quality of people’s lives, these societal benefits can in turn be used to attract new industry.
The Arts Sector Paradox
The most surprising aspect of the two reports’ findings is that Tucson’s creative vitality has been demonstrated during a severe economic downturn that has left numerous arts organizations struggling. Many nonprofits have in fact been forced to cut back programming on the heels of a population surge that has created more demand for arts and culture opportunities.
The paradox that lies between the demonstrable benefit the arts bring to our region’s economy and the fact that many if not most arts organizations today are hurting raises the question: what greater benefit would be derived if the arts were better funded—whether through public or private contributions?
To address the arts sector’s undercapitalization, the Tucson Pima Arts Council has over the past four years proven itself amazingly adept at leveraging local dollars to attract public and private arts funding from national sources. Recent prestigious grant awards to TPAC have been received from the Kresge, Nathan Cummings and Open Society Foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
A nearly unprecedented accomplishment for a mid-sized regional arts council, this has resulted in an additional $500,000 in support of our local economy. These awards from national sources for Pima County are more than three times per capita that of Maricopa County and 1.5 times that of San Diego County.
Why does Tucson receive a greater share of national arts funding? Again, according to Bedoya, “We have a large stable of talented people who are choosing to make Tucson and Pima County their home. Our for-profit creative industry is thriving and we have a cadre of devoted individuals and businesses that provides important support to the arts, whether through fundraising or volunteerism.”
TPAC also boasts an executive leadership that has effectively articulated the quality and reach of local arts activities, ensuring that they meet the guidelines of national funding sources, both public and private, and has developed meaningful relationships with these funders on behalf of TPAC and Pima County’s arts providers.
With a comparatively small investment of local public sector funds from the City of Tucson and Pima County, the lion’s share of which goes directly to arts programs that benefit the public, TPAC is able to provide taxpayers a remarkably valuable return. However, Tucson and Pima County will not be able to continue to attract national grant awards without demonstrating strong public support for the arts and for the Arts Council.
As Bedoya points out, “The willingness of national organizations to continue funding our programs relies on our ability to show that Tucson and Pima County are fundamentally committed to supporting and sustaining the arts. The best way we can demonstrate this support is by increasing the public share for arts funding.”
 Both reports are available online at: www.tucsonpimaartscouncil.org/advocacy-and-research/
 The total economic impact of the nonprofit Arts and Culture Industry in Pima County is $87,715,892. Americans for the Arts, Arts and Economic Prosperity IV (2012), p. 4.
 Americans for the Arts, Local Arts Index (2012), p. 158.
 Ibid. online version: www.artsindexusa.org/where-i-live
 Op. cit., Arts and Economic Prosperity IV, p. 9.
 Ibid., p. 10.
 Pima County receives on average $1,095 per 10,000 residents from the National Endowment for the Arts. Maricopa and San Diego Counties receive $659 and $359 per 10,000, respectively. Op. cit., Arts Index online version.