Maria Saporta, in today’s Atlanta Business Chronicle, reports that “The arts are an integral part of the state’s economy”. A study has been done of 380 arts organizations’ online survey replies. The net economic impact of programming is $387 million, with $18.6 million in tax revenue. (Georgia is one of only seven states that tax ticket sales at non-profit art center box offices.)
While I am certainly glad to hear the results of the online survey, I am disappointed that only 380 arts organizations responded. These organizations are from 70 of Georgia’s 159 counties. Response from less than 1/2 of Georgia’s counties is problematic.
For instance, if one considers that there are 500+ festivals annually in Georgia- and that many are hosted by arts organizations – we are lacking impact figures from at least 70 of these events. Exhibitions are not included in the festival count. Add at least 50 more events’ impact to that total.
It is vitally important that we talk, often and loudly, about the economic impact of the arts in Georgia, both from non-profit organizations and professional artists. But I believe that any assessment needs to be far more thorough than an online self-completed survey counting 380 arts organizations from only 70 counties. Our legislators, county commissioners, town councils, economic developers and tourism directors need more detailed information. While $387 million sounds significant, the true economic impact of the arts is much closer to billions of dollars. Let’s get a more thorough study underway and market a more accurate accounting of the economic impact of art to Georgia!