Arts spending report paints lucrative picture

First study that examines regional economic contribution of arts and culture sector

Arts and culture represent a multimillion-dollar windfall for Greater Victoria, according to the results of an arts economic study released last week.

In 2010, $170 million was spent by the region’s artists, hobbyists, arts and culture businesses and organizations, as well as patrons attending performing arts events.

Of that, $126 million stayed in Greater Victoria, said Brock Smith, the study’s author and business professor at the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business.

Until the $8,500 study was commissioned a year ago, regional spending by the arts and culture sector was never quantified.

“Before the study was done we had a general feeling that arts is good, it’s a nice thing to have, but I think there’s a sense that it’s not very economically viable,” said Smith, who conducted the study with his team at the request of the Victoria Foundation, the Capital Regional District Arts Development Service, the Greater Victoria Development Agency, ProArt Alliance and Tourism Victoria.

The positive results tell potential arts investors, such as the provincial government, for example, that “their investment is worth it,” Smith said.

The findings were based on feedback from almost 100 respondents who answered an online survey, and from 500 people who were approached at performing arts events in March and asked about their pre- and post-event spending.

The results paint a clear picture: The $170-million windfall in 2010 supported more than 5,400 employment years and generated $21 million in annual property tax revenue.

“What (the study) really shows I think is that the amount of money the public sector invests in the arts actually has significant economic spinoffs in terms of equivalent employment (and) in terms of the tax base,” said James Lam, manager of the Capital Regional District’s Arts Development Service.

 

In future, a similar arts economic impact study may be conducted every two years.