Where creativity and economic development meet

Scott Anderson//March 14, 2014

Where creativity and economic development meet

Scott Anderson//March 14, 2014

ScottAnderson05The arts and business work closely together.

Both test the envelope of human creativity, intellect, energy and promise. Both seek to motivate, to produce, to achieve excellence, to grow and to unite.

For many businesses, sponsorship of the arts is about more than prominent logo placement. The benefits of investing in the arts are well documented. Americans for the Arts — a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the arts and arts education — recently issued its fourth study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry’s impact on the economy using findings from 182 regions representing 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“The findings from Arts & Economic Prosperity IV send a clear and welcome message: leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts,” writes the organization’s president and CEO, Robert L. Lynch.

According to the 2010 study, the arts and cultural industry generated $135.2 billion of economic activity nationally, supporting 4.13 million full-time jobs and generating $86.68 billion in resident household income. The industry generates $22.3 billion in revenue to local, state, and federal governments every year.

In Boise, total spending by the nonprofit arts and culture industry was just over $48 million, generating 1,602 full-time equivalent jobs, $1.65 million in local government revenue and $2.81 million in state government revenue, the study reported.

In one example from the Gem State, data show the significant impact of the arts on the local economy through the Sun Valley Film Festival. In 2013, the event attracted 2,700 unique participants, and its total economic impact was estimated at $3.7 million, according to Sun Valley Economic Development, a Wood River Valley economic development agency. According to the agency’s director, Harry Griffith, the festival supports the equivalent of roughly five full-time employees.

“The real benefit to the community is attracting people here and having them stay here longer,” Griffith says. “There’s a lot of people who are here because of the cultural events and athletic activities. It adds one more reason for someone to buy a home.”

Idaho’s dynamic artistic contributions include the Treefort Music Fest in Boise, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow and the ARTitorium on Broadway in Idaho Falls, to name a few. Idaho has basked in the national spotlight thanks to the Trey McIntyre Project and its innovative artistic director.

These signature events and venues would not be as strong as they are — or in some cases even possible — without financial support from the private sector. Outside of sponsorship dollars, the business community provides valuable contributions through volunteer time and service on boards of directors.

According to the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study, volunteerism has an enormous impact on the viability of arts and culture organizations. The average city and county in the study had 5,215 arts volunteers who donated 201,719 hours to nonprofit arts and culture organizations, a donation valued at $4.3 million.

From a business development standpoint, a robust artistic community serves to attract the best and brightest minds. “A place that has thriving arts also tends to have a great entrepreneurial spirit,” says Michael Faison, executive director of the Idaho Commission on the Arts. “If you want to attract … highly educated people to your community to be leaders in industry, they want to come to a place that has this thriving climate.”

As we build an enduring platform for economic success in our communities, we need to look both at business and at the arts. Both must have the opportunity to flourish. Both make our communities stronger, more vibrant and more enjoyable.

Anderson is president and CEO of Zions Bank, which has $18.6 billion in assets and operates 127 full-service financial centers throughout Idaho and Utah. Zions Bank is the presenting sponsor of the Sun Valley Film Festival.