Did you go out to dinner before the event? Pay the
babysitter to watch the kiddies during? Grab a drink afterward?
According to data released this summer by Americans For The Arts, people in this state are answering "yes" to one or more of those questions. The study, titled Arts and Economic Prosperity, is the fourth in a series that looks at how nonprofit art and culture offerings impact the economy. The study included 182 study regions, including 10 states - one of which was Pennsylvania.
Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania, which helped facilitate the survey, reached out to about 800 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in the state. That list included York County organizations.
The results from 2010 data found that most folks spend about $20 beyond admission or ticket expenditures to arts and cultural events. That extra cash flows into parking meters, restaurants and shops to boost the local economy and support jobs outside the arts sector. Attendees from outside the state tend to outspend in-state attendees. Those who travel a distance for an event spend on hotel rooms, gas and souvenirs.
Many people don't think about those extra dollars. But the economic impact makes sense when you consider your own behavior.
I've attended many concerts in the area. (Music, if you haven't realized over the years, is my thing.) But not enough that the novelty of a night on the town has lost its appeal. And that usually includes splurging for dinner and/or drinks.
I'm one of many who spends on the arts, but I'm not one for math. I'll let people like Rodd Robertson crunch the numbers.
He has data from York Little Theatre dating back to the 2005-06 season. He's been involved since 2007 and currently sits on the theater's board. He said the numbers he collects, adds to spreadsheets and pores over might have been used for the Arts and Economic Prosperity study.
Most of what he collects - show attendance, royalties, theater capacity per show and average age of attendees - comes from YLT's online ticketing system and information gathered from walk-ups at the box office.
The Cultural Alliance of York County also collects similar data from local organizations; part of its allocation rating system takes audience attendance into account. Alliance president Joanne Riley said the organization focuses on fundraising and community engagement in the arts. It also monitors many local arts entities, or partner agencies.
The alliance participates in many arts indexes, including Arts and Economic Prosperity, because they provide crucial details on where the arts sector has been and where it's going.
According to the Arts and Economic Prosperity survey, the Great Recession impacted the arts and erased some gains made in 2005. In 2010, many organizations were starting to emerge from hard times, Riley said.
"You can see that (revenue) rebounded somewhat," she said. "Art education is easier to justify. It's harder to justify money spent on the arts in challenging times. The arts just aren't pretty; they drive other things that happen. When you see what it generates, it's amazing."
Robertson said YLT's
revenue peaked around 2008-09. During the 2010 season, when Americans for the Arts data was collected, attendance dipped. The theater went though financial difficulties and lost backing from the alliance.
But revenue shot back up this season, Robertson said. He added that the theater is operating more efficiently, by offering the right amount of performances in the right theater. The main theater seats about 250. (The Black Box theater seats roughly half that amount.)
He plans to do a "deep dive" into data this month to see how the stats he collects can be used to help the theater plan future events.
YLT hasn't collected data on its economic impact beyond its doors, but Robertson said he knows that audience members often head across the street to Jamie's Courtside for drinks after shows or meet up with cast members for celebratory dinners.
Those meals and cocktails pay wages. Those wages are spent on rent and groceries. The economic impact of a show goes beyond the people in the seats. It's something that deserves to be studied - and thought about - more.
PopEye is a bi-weekly column focusing on the ever-changing landscape of popular culture. To reach Erin McCracken, call 717-771-2051 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the numbers
Here are some of the numbers from the Arts & Economic Prosperity study of 2010.Nationwide:
$135.2 billion - Amount nonprofit arts and culture industry generates
4.1 million - Full-time jobs supported by this economic activity
$24.60 - Average amount an arts attendee spends per event beyond the cost of admission
$2.55 billion - Amount nonprofit arts and culture industry generates
81,061 - Full-time jobs supported by this economic activity
$20.20 - Average amount an arts attendee spends per event beyond the cost of admission
York County Participants
Cultural Alliance of York County
Greater York Dance
Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center
York County Heritage Trust
York Jewish Community Center
York Little Theatre
Several local companies will complete work in the coming weeks on air-conditioning and heating systems, carpets, floors, roofing, windows and landscaping. Many local companies and individuals donated items and services. The list includes Walton & Company, Heidler Roofing, Carpet Mart of York, Mike Ausherman Painting, Sherwin Williams, York Wallcoverings, Schaedler, Resource York, Dry Foam Carpet Cleaning, S. A. Tawney Construction, Refindings of York and Master Cleaning of York. Online
Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania: www.jumpstreet.org
Read the study and check out the data: Click on the Arts and Economic Prosperity link at the bottom of artsusa.org