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Home / Iowa City, Marion participating in arts economic survey
If you’re going to spend $72 to see the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band at the Englert in Iowa City on March 15 or wandering through a concert or festival footprint in Uptown Marion, chances are good you’re also going to drop some extra cash on dinner beforehand, drinks afterward, and maybe even parking, a babysitter, a hotel room and some shopping.
Iowa City and Marion are among the cities encouraging visitors and audience members to weigh in on the economic impact of the arts.
According to the Iowa Arts Council, the research — conducted via surveys in Ames, greater Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Council Bluffs, greater Des Moines, Davenport, Dubuque, Iowa City, Marion, Mason City and Sioux City — is Iowa’s contribution to the national Arts & Economic Prosperity Study, the most in-depth arts research project of its kind in the United States.
Five such studies have been conducted in the past, but this is the first one going statewide in Iowa -- not just focusing on Des Moines. It’s being organized by the nonprofit Americans for the Arts, with help from state arts agencies like the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.
“In a typical year, we know Iowa’s creative sector contributes more than $4 billion to the state’s economy and employs more than 43,000 creative workers statewide,” Chris Kramer, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, said in a news release. “This study focuses on the arts’ impact at a local level and helps community leaders and residents understand how cultural anchor organizations generate tourism, support jobs and contribute to vibrant, prosperous communities.”
It began in May 2022 and will wind up this spring, with the results expected to be released in July. Participants include nonprofit performing arts venues, museums, film and theater groups, cultural festivals and historical sites.
The host sites are distributing surveys after events to better understand how arts and culture organizations contribute to growing local economies and a healthy tax base through event-related activities and purchases. The study also captures the same cultural organizations’ annual expenditures, number of full-time jobs and contributions to local government revenues.
“Arts and culture events directly support the livelihood of diverse artists, creative workers and local businesses, including hotels and restaurants that depend on cultural tourism,” Iowa Arts Council Administrator David Schmitz said.
The study’s most recent edition, published in 2015, revealed that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity and supported 4.6 million jobs across the country. The Iowa portion of that study showed that in greater Des Moines, the arts had an annual economic impact of $185 million and accounted for more than 5,600 full-time jobs.
For more information about Americans for the Arts or the Arts & Economic Prosperity study, go to americansforthearts.org.