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Report: Phoenix Arts And Culture Has $402 Million Economic Impact

A new report says arts and culture contributed $401.8 million to the Phoenix economy in fiscal year 2015. The nonprofit advocacy group, Americans For The Arts, looked at direct and indirect spending by audiences and organizations.

“Indirect spending is kind of how a dollar moves through the economy,” said Gail Browne, executive director of Phoenix’s Office of Arts and Culture. “Say a guest goes to a restaurant and that restaurant uses part of the money that’s generated by that activity to pay the waiter and a waiter uses part of that money to pay for gas to get to work, etc.”

Browne said the economic impact from audiences and arts and culture organizations has increased $100 million dollars since the last report released in 2012.

“The recession was a big factor,” she said. “We did see a dip five years ago, mostly on the audience side actually. There weren’t as many people going. In fact, one of our big numbers this year is in the number of audience members served. It’s nearly 7 million, it’s a 1.7 million increase over the last time.”

While audience participation and spending has increased in Phoenix, Browne said spending by arts and culture organizations has remained flat for at least a decade.

“We have a bit of an imbalance in Phoenix insofar as a lot of our organizations are more heavily reliant on earned income- ticket sales -than they are on contributed income - donations, corporate support, sponsorships.” she said.

Browne would like to see philanthropic groups and businesses give more to arts and culture. She said her office has identified about 170 organizations that are operating in Phoenix.

“Our art museum, our symphony, our opera are just amazing,” she said. “But, in addition to those anchor institutions we have innumerable number of festivals that are often appreciating local cultures, ethnically specific festivals. We also have a lot of smaller organizations that are serving the communities in which they exist: small dance groups, small theater groups.”

The city of Mesa reported nonprofit and public arts and culture organizations and audiences contributed nearly $30 million in direct economic activity in 2015.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.