$153.3 million.

If you were lucky enough to have it, the stack of $1 bills would stand over 9.5 miles high into the sky and weigh 137 tons.

Wonderfully, our community just learned that we do have $153.3 million coming to us — every year — through the economic activity generated by our nonprofit arts and cultural community.

This is a 113 percent increase over the economic impact total of the previous study, released in 2012.

The sum includes $51.2 million generated directly by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and $102.1 million pumped into the economy by the event-related spending of their audiences, like pre-show dinners, transportation, or nights in local hotels.

This revelation is one of many that come from the Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 Study, which was orchestrated locally by the Cultural Office and conducted in cooperation with Americans for the Arts. This edition of the study included 341 diverse communities and regions across the United States, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Data collection for AEP5 was completed during 2016 (using organizational data from 2015), and the results were released publicly on June 17 at the annual Americans for the Arts conference in San Francisco.

We also learned that local art and culture does the following:• supports 5,070 full-time equivalent jobs• generates $100.8 million in household income to local residents• delivers $15.9 million in local and state government revenue• reaches an audience of more than 3 million people annually

I invite you to join us when the local and national results of the AEP5 study are formally shared with our community at “Coffee with COPPeR” from 8-9:30 a.m., July 12, at the Kathryn Mohrman Theatre in Armstrong Hall, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St., on the Colorado College campus. It is free to attend and we would love to see a fittingly large, celebratory turnout. RSVP at conta.cc/2tdAs9s.

You can also read more about the study results at culturaloffice.org, under the “Resources” tab.

From the perspective of the Cultural Office, a few other numbers make us proud. We succeeded in gathering organizational data from 87 nonprofit arts organizations (an increase of 70 percent from the previous study) and 869 audience surveys at 15 local arts and cultural events (an increase of 33 percent) Our creative community is getting stronger in part because we can mobilize, organize and collaborate like never before to get things done!

As exciting as it is to say $153.3 million, the true stars of this study are not the numbers, but the local artists, arts producers and arts patrons. We do this work so that we can empower our local artists and arts & cultural organizations with concrete measures of their ultimately immeasurable value.

The arts deliver an incredible return on investment to this community that can be felt across our region’s economy. And they deserve more local investment to keep those economic impact numbers — and innumerable artistic joys — climbing into the sky.

Angela Seals serves as Deputy Director for the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region. She contributes this monthly column to the Cheyenne Edition and can be reached at angela@culturaloffice.org.

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