Arts supporters in Santa Barbara County received some good news Thursday afternoon from results of a national survey showing economic impact in the region.
Even in tough economic times, county residents still attend arts and cultural events, subsequently channeling millions of dollars into local retail, restaurants and hotels.
Results from the national Americans for the Arts “Arts and Economic Prosperity IV” study were presented at the Lobero Theatre on Thursday during a Forum on the Economic Impact of Arts & Culture in Santa Barbara County, sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.
Santa Barbara County was one of 182 regions that participated in the study.
Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider kicked off the event by reading a proclamation declaring October as National Arts and Humanities Month and Friday as California Arts Day in Santa Barbara.
She thanked those who create and those who financially support local arts.
Arts in Santa Barbara County generated $124 million in total economic activity in 2010, according to event keynote speaker Randy Cohen, vice president for research and policy at Americans for the Arts.
Study results show that this spending — $79.7 million by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and an additional $44.3 million in event-related spending by their audiences — supports 3,587 full-time jobs, generates $78.5 million in household income to local residents, and delivers $11.7 million in local and state revenue.
The good news, Cohen said, is that county residents are continuing to view arts as more than a luxury.
He urged members of the arts community to come up with creative solutions to attract more audiences to events.
“Arts organizations are good business citizens,” he said. “Vibrant arts communities are good for local merchants.”
On average, county residents spend $21.17 per person per event, excluding admission, Cohen said. The average non-local spends $41.41, excluding admission.
Members of the audience nodded in agreement or let out sounds of surprise during the presentation, which culminated in a question-and-answer session.
Kathy Janega-Dykes, CEO for the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission, also provided a glimpse into a steadily improving arts market for tourism.
She said preliminary summer numbers showed that 55.7 percent visitors who stayed in hotels and 73.1 percent of day visitors attended some arts or cultural event.
“The state of the tourism industry is very, very good,” Janega-Dykes said.