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Local Arts Industry Increases Revenue, Supports Jobs

Study finds local arts community an investment in the city’s overall economic health

Posted: July 23, 2013 12:00 p.m.
Updated: July 23, 2013 12:00 p.m.
"Western Tiger Swallowtail" by LT Mustardseed along Bouquet Canyon Road near Central Park in Saugus "Western Tiger Swallowtail" by LT Mustardseed along Bouquet Canyon Road near Central Park in Saugus
"Western Tiger Swallowtail" by LT Mustardseed along Bouquet Canyon Road near Central Park in Saugus
"Into The Blue", a piece at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center "Into The Blue", a piece at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center
"Into The Blue", a piece at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center
"Birds of Valencia" by Douwe Blumberg "Birds of Valencia" by Douwe Blumberg
"Birds of Valencia" by Douwe Blumberg

A nationwide study found that Santa Clarita’s nonprofit arts community not only enhances quality of life, but invests in the overall well-being of the local economy.

An Americans for the Arts study measured the economic impact of the arts in Santa Clarita, and it found that Santa Clarita’s arts community generated 11.4 million in total spending and supported 309 jobs in 2010.

“The total economic impact of the arts as a whole can be leveraged to drive economic growth for a city in a number of ways,” said John Dow, chairman of the Santa Clarita Arts Commission.

As a city, Santa Clarita is competing for new homebuyers, businesses, talent and highly skilled and marketable individuals, Dow said.

“The arts community is a differentiator for the Santa Clarita Valley when you consider that competition,” he said.

Growth in a decade

The Santa Clarita Arts Commission participated twice in this study — once in 2001 and once in 2012. The study surveyed 11 nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences in 2011.

The 2001 study showed that total industry spending in Santa Clarita was just under $2 million, Dow said.

The $10 million increase in annual spending since 2001 can be partly attributed to the growth and development of the local arts community since the first study, he said.

The Canyon Theatre Guild and the Repertory East Playhouse, both in Newhall, had just been established, and the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons wasn’t established until 2004. The Arts Commission wasn’t founded until 2009, as well.

“We are working so much more effectively today than past years because of the Arts Commission,” said Bob Kellar, city of Santa Clarita mayor. “There is a huge partnership of entities coming together to focus on the arts.”

Since its establishment, the Arts Commission has been including public art pieces in the master plans of certain shopping centers, public spaces and city projects, when appropriate, Kellar said.

“Prior to the commission, we didn’t have that focus,” he said.

All the investments since 2001 have paid off by contributing revenue and jobs to the local economy over the past 10 years, Dow said.

Spending by nonprofits

Besides pumping revenue into the local economy, arts organizations are job creators and active contributors to local businesses.

Local arts noprofits produced $5.8 of the total arts revenue generated by the industry, separate from audience spending, according to the most recent study. In addition, they supported 309 full-time equivalent jobs in Santa Clarita in 2010, according to the study.

These organizations are employers, producers and consumers. Their spending — on salaries, supplies, services and assets — contribute to the local economy, as well.

And spending supports more than just other arts non- and for-profits; the arts industry relies on financial services, printing, construction, legal, event planning, etc.

“Part of what these groups do is inject money into the local economy,” Dow said.

Also, Santa Clarita has a unique component that drives arts activity and allows the industry to function as it does today.

During 2012, a total of 653 volunteers donated more than 29,000 hours, equal to a value of $624,865, according to the study.

“Volunteerism absolutely has an economic value,” Dow said. “These nonprofits operate on shoestring budgets. Without volunteers, the organizations would not only not flourish, but they cease to exist entirely.”

Audience spending

The nonprofit arts and culture industry, unlike most other industries, leverages a large amount of event-related spending by its audiences, according to the most recent study. Audience spending generates related commerce for local businesses, such as restaurants, hotels and retail centers.

About $5.6 million was spent by audiences, excluding the cost of admission, according to the study published in 2012.

On average, an event attendee spent $31.58 per person, per event in the community as a direct result of their attendance to the event, according to the study.

“When this community goes out for an evening, we take advantage — we make a night out of it,” Dow said. “When I go out, I hire a babysitter, spend money on gas, go out to eat before the show and maybe get dessert and coffee after the show.”

Because arts events are a source of profit that generates further profit, it’s in a city’s best interest to entertainment locally.

Close to 30 percent of all attendees (both resident and non-residents) said they would travel to another city for the same event. These figures show that if a community doesn’t provide arts and culture events, its residents will go somewhere else to find them.

Since Santa Clarita has a large population of residents working in the entertainment industry, there is large market for arts and culture events.

More than 52 percent of attendees said they were also involved in the arts in some way, according to the 2012 study.

Since this market is already showing a strong support of the arts and showing up to events, Dow is currently focused on increasing outreach to those who aren’t actively involved.

“Local artists are plugged into our various networks; they know what’s happening on the arts scene,” Dow said. “We need to be thinking about everybody else.”

To attract residents that aren’t aware of Santa Clarita’s arts and cultural offerings, the Arts Commission, along with the city, plans to launch a website that will highlight all the local arts and culture events.

“It will keep people informed and reach more people than just those that are already plugged in,” Dow said.

Attracting and retaining spending

Though arts revenue has grown significantly since the initial study, there is still room for improvement.

Santa Clarita is behind the national median on arts spending, as well as behind the median impact of arts on communities of a similar size, according to the 2012 study.

Of the nonprofit arts event attendees, about 98 percent are residents, and 2 percent are non-residents; however, non-residents spend 52 percent more than residents on average, according to the study.

To reach the non-resident market, the city has been working together with other business organizations — including the SCV Chamber of Commerce, Valley Industry Association and the SCV Economic Development Corp. — to promote local arts and cultural events to surrounding areas and states, Kellar said.

“Collectively, we have done a tremendous amount of outreach, radio campaigns and major placards, including the ones placed at Bob Hope Airport. We’ve promoted Santa Clarita in publications in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley,” Kellar said.

To further generate attraction, the Arts Commission has considered package deals.

“Some cities develop partnerships among local arts venues, restaurants and transportation providers,” Dow said. “We have opportunities to create that here, and it’s a smart strategy from a marketing perspective.”

Downtown Newhall, as well, is one key tool to creating an arts and entertainment district in Santa Clarita, Dow said.

“Economic growth is a byproduct of a robust cultural landscape,” Dow said. “People involve themselves in the arts to educate, enrich and entertain, and significant economic activity is a result.”


Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts & Culture Industry


$11.4 Million Annual Expenditures

309 Full-Time Equivalent Jobs

$9.6 Million Resident Household Income


$2 Million Annual Expenditures

51 Full-Time Equivalent Jobs

$1.4 Million Resident Household Income


Average Dollars Spent by Arts Attendees (2010)

(per person)

Refreshments/Snacks at Event                       $7.42

Meals Before/After Event                              $11.31

Souvenirs and Gifts                                        $8.49

Clothing and Accessories                               $0.07

Ground Transportation                                   $1.95

Event-Related Child Care                              $2.32

Overnight Lodging                                         $0.02

TOTAL                                                          $31.58


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