Nonprofit View: Art is good for business
The Carroll County Arts Council was founded in 1969 and will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It has had several homes, but since 2003, it has occupied the Carroll Arts Center, formerly the Carroll Theater, on West Main Street in Westminster.
Anyone who is familiar with the Carroll Arts Center knows that it has a stellar reputation for providing excellent artistic programming, whether it is a live show, an exquisite art exhibit, and outstanding film, or high-quality children’s classes and camps. In 2007, the Arts Center began hosting the signature PEEPShow, which has brought it national media coverage and notoriety.
While it is easy to appreciate the Carroll Arts Center for its high-quality artistic programming, it is also a major economic generator for Carroll County. As the new executive director, I am a newcomer to both Maryland and Carroll County. In my learning curve for this position, I have found some interesting information about the relationship between the arts and business.
First, Maryland ranks third in the U.S. for funding for the arts, following only Minnesota and Hawaii. This is not completely an altruistic gesture. According to the Maryland State Arts Council, the arts in Maryland generate $1.4 billion in tourism and economic development, account for over 17,600 jobs, and almost $60 million in state and local tax revenue. Statewide, every dollar spent on the arts generates $4.12 in other economic development activity, including money spent at local restaurants, hotels and shops. The national average for event-related spending is $47.57 per person.
Here’s what that means in Carroll County. We had 47,000 people come through our doors last fiscal year, approximately half of which came in April for the PEEPShow. If each one of them spent $47.57 on tickets, restaurants, shop and lodging, that means that the Carroll Arts Center generated $2.2 million in local and regional tourism revenue for the county. I’d say that’s a pretty stable base for an organization that many people think is built on marshmallows.
Of course, we couldn’t do this without the support of the Maryland State Arts Council, the City of Westminster, and Carroll County. We thank these organizations for their support in the past, and ask that they continue to support the Arts Center — if not for the art, then for the economic development that it generates.
Support doesn’t just mean writing a check, although that’s always nice and we’ll certainly take it. If you aren’t yet a member, please consider becoming one. It is only $25 a year for an individual or $40 for a family, and that provides 10 percent off of every ticket. However, support also means coming to a show, volunteering at our events, visiting an exhibit, watching one of our amazing movies, urging your business to sponsor an event, bidding on wreaths during the holidays or shopping for unique gifts in our gift shop.
It is a great cultural facility like this that make people want to live and work in Carroll County. Please come and explore our galleries, catch a movie, enjoy a show, and bring your family. I look forward to seeing you here for some event in 2019!