Overture Center building front file photo

The Overture Center.

MIKE DeVRIES – The Capital Times archives

The amount of money that nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Dane County — and their audiences — poured into the local economy in 2010 was nearly double that of many other communities of comparable size, according to a new national study.

Groups ranging from tiny dance companies to the region's symphony orchestra helped generate more than $145.5 million, compared to the median $78 million spent in similar communities with populations of 250,000 to 500,000 people, according to "Arts and Economic Prosperity IV," touted as the largest study ever of its kind.

The study also found that audience members for arts events, performances and museum exhibitions in Dane County spent on average $26.21 beyond the price of a ticket for things such as transportation, meals and souvenirs. For attendees who come from outside Dane County, that additional spending figure rose to $43.78.

The $145 million economic input total "is exciting," said Thrive interim executive vice president Jennifer Post Tyler, who along with other local officials will be unveiling the study results in a press conference Monday.

"It's a recognition of how this sector has grown in our county," she said. "And I think there's still potential for these organizations to continue to generate more economic impact."

Five Dane County arts institutions split the $4,500 cost to participate in the study, which was conducted by Georgia Institute of Technology economists for the Americans for the Arts, a Washington, D.C. -based advocacy group that has conducted a similar study every five years over the past two decades.

The latest analysis, conducted in 182 communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, is based on 2010 data from audience surveys and the budget statements of participating nonprofits. For-profit arts and culture businesses, such as nightclubs, movie theaters and Broadway shows, were not included.

Forty-nine Dane County nonprofits, or 13 percent of the county's 378 eligible arts and culture organizations, supplied data — including groups ranging from Sun Prairie Civic Theatre and the Association of Church Musicians, Inc. to Madison Opera and Monona Terrace. More than 700 audience members also were surveyed in interviews conducted at performances, events and exhibitions.

"We wouldn't have been able to participate if we hadn't pooled our resources and worked together," said Karen Crossley, director of the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, one of the groups that helped fund the study and gather Dane County data. Other collaborators were the Madison Arts Commission, Overture Center for the Arts, Overture's resident organizations and the UW Arts Institute.

"We just all knew this was an extraordinary opportunity," Crossley said. "This is a very robust undertaking, and no one of us or even our community would have been equipped to undertake this. We wanted to be part of this larger picture, so we made it happen, and I'm proud of that."

According to the study, spending on the arts in Dane County exceeded most other similar-sized study areas, including Santa Barbara County, Calif.; Omaha, Neb.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Newark, N.J.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and the North Carolina counties that are home to Fayetteville, Durham, Winston-Salem and Greensboro.

Only Miami and Sarasota, Fla., two other cities in the same population category as Dane County, showed a greater dollar impact of the nonprofit arts sector: $576 million for Miami and $180 million for Sarasota, respectively.

Across Wisconsin, the nonprofit arts and culture industry supports 22,872 full-time equivalent jobs and amounts to $535 million in spending, according a portion of the study commissioned by the Wisconsin Arts Board.

In Dane County, the sector supports 5,119 full-time equivalent jobs, and generates nearly $6 million in local government revenue and $7.8 million in state government revenue, according to the study.

Prior to Monday's press conference, arts organizations will hold a workshop to discuss how they and individual artists might better capitalize on cultural tourism, an industry where dollars also reverberate through the retail, restaurant and hotel sectors.

"I think it's helpful for policymakers to understand how big is our sector right now, how healthy is our sector right now, and to think about ways we can drive additional economic impact through this sector," said Post Tyler of Thrive.

Despite a national economic downturn since the last Americans for the Arts study based on 2005 data, Dane County has seen a lot of change and growth on the arts scene, she said.

In 2005, "Overture Center was still under construction, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art had no permanent home, the Madison Children's Museum was in its previous location, and the Chazen expansion had not yet happened," she said. "Those are some huge, huge things that have changed during that time period, so I did expect to see some strong numbers for Dane County."


Nonprofit Arts and Culture Event Attendee Spending

Money spent on Dane County residents Non-Residents All attendees
Refreshments/snacks during event $2.94 $3.22 $3
Meals before/after event $9.81 $12.38 $10.41
Souvenirs and gifts $3.30 $3.93 $3.45
Clothing and accessories $0.96 $1.31 $1.05
Ground transportation $2.33 $5.74 $3.14
Event-related child care $0.59 $0.24 $0.50
Overnight lodging (one night only) $0.19 $14.32 $3.53
Other $0.67 $2.64 $1.13
Total per-person spending $20.79 $43.78 $26.21

Source: Americans for the Arts. Based on surveys with 720 attendees at nonnprofit arts and culture performances, events and exhibitions in 2011.


Nonprofit arts and culture spending in Dane County

(Combined spending by nonprofits and audiences)

Economic impact Dane County Median of similar study regions*
Direct expenditures $145,500,397 $78,014,569
Full-time equivalent jobs 5,119 2,719
Resident household income $97,276,000 $63,166,000
Local government revenue $5,977,000 $3,640,500
State government revenue $7,816,000 $4,143,500

* population 250,000 to 500,000

Source: Americans for the Arts. Based on 2010 budget data from 49 nonprofit Dane County arts and cultural organizations.


Nonprofits who participated

Forty-nine nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Dane County, or 13 percent of a total 378 organizations eligible, provided budget data for the American for the Arts study. Participants included:

African Association of Madison, Inc; Association of Church Musicians, Inc.; Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society of WI, Inc.; Candid Concert Opera; Chazen Museum of Art; Children's Theater of Madison; Dance Wisconsin; Dane Arts; Department of Theatre and Drama and University Theatre, UW; Dimensions in Sound & The Studio Orchestra Inc; Forward Theater; Kanopy Dance Theatre Inc; KOJO Productions; Laboratory Theatre; Madison Children's Museum; Madison Jazz Society Inc; Madison Museum of Contemporary Art; Madison Opera, Inc.; Madison Savoyards Ltd.; Madison Scottish Country Dancers; Madison Symphony Orchestra; Madison Trust for Historic Preservation; Madison Watercolor Society; Madison Youth Choirs; Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center; Mount Horeb Area Historical Society; Oak Apple Morris Dancers; Olbrich Botanical Society; Opera for the Young, Inc.; Oregon Community Band; Overture Center for the Arts; PlayTime Productions; Preschool of the Arts; Sun Prairie Civic Theatre; TAPIT/new works, Inc.; UW Cinematheque; Verona Area Community Theater Inc.; VSA Wisconsin; Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters; Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education; Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra; Wisconsin Historical Museum; Wisconsin Historical Society; Wisconsin School Music Assn; Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum; Wisconsin Union Theater; Wisconsin Veteran's Museum; Wisconsin Youth Company; and Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra, UW.

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