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Arts Industry Puts Billions Into City Economy

Arts Industry Puts Billions Into City Economy

The New York Sun 5/30/2007

By Kate Taylor

The arts industry had a $25.7 billion economic impact in New York City and New York State combined in 2005, according to a study released yesterday by an arts advocacy organization, the Alliance for the Arts. Among the arts, the greatest contributor to the economy in both the city and state is motion picture and television production, followed by nonprofit cultural organizations, commercial theater, and art galleries and auction houses. Arts-motivated visitors to New York City — tourists who described taking in art as the primary reason for their visit — numbered 7.5 million, generating $5.4 billion for the city’s economy.

Alliance for the Arts released similar economic impact studies for New York City in 1983 and 1993. It decided to postpone this study, the organization’s president, Randall Bourscheidt, said in an interview, in order to allow the industry time to recover from the impact of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Economic impact studies are useful primarily as a lobbying tool and a form of public relations. “The very simple reason for doing this is to help people understand the cumulative value of an industry that is completely dispersed,” Mr. Bourscheidt said, adding that the people the study is aimed at include policymakers, business leaders, heads of foundations, and average New Yorkers.

Mr. Bourscheidt noted that this is the first time the Alliance has done a comprehensive study of the whole state. “We have information that people in Governor Spitzer’s office are looking at this with great interest” and considering how strong cultural institutions can help rebuild depressed local economies, he said.

The economic impact of the four major components of the arts industry — film and television, Broadway, art galleries and auction houses, and nonprofit cultural organizations — in the New York City area grew 63%, or 4.8% a year, between 1992 and 2005, a rate that the director of the study, Rosemary Scanlon, characterized as impressive. Although few other industries conduct economic impact studies, some measures can be directly compared. Total jobs in New York City increased by 6.3%, or 0.5% a year, between 1992 and 2005, while total jobs in the arts industry increased by 57%, or 4.2% a year, according to a memo Ms. Scanlon prepared to provide context for the study’s findings. Direct wages from the arts industry were $4.8 billion in 2005, just shy of the $5 billion in direct wages from the publishing industry, $5.3 billion from advertising, $5.5 billion from leisure/hospitality, and $5.5 billion from education.