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November 11, 2013 talking points

Art means business

Cathy Malloy

The arts play a major role in making the Greater Hartford region an exciting place to live, work, and visit.

In addition to providing sources of entertainment, education, and inspiration to thousands of individuals every year, the arts consistently affect our community in a less obvious, but still incredibly meaningful way — economically.

In the capital region, art means business.

Research conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nation's leading arts advocacy and service organization, indicates that the arts and cultural community of Greater Hartford has a tremendous impact on our local economy. From 2010 to 2011, Americans for the Arts conducted the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever performed in the United States.

The Greater Hartford Arts Council commissioned the same study on a local level to analyze trends not just across the country, but in our region, providing a current and comprehensive look at the economic impact of the arts right in our backyard.

Released in 2012, the report reveals that the arts and cultural industry generates $230.4 million in economic activity in the Greater Hartford area and provides $21.4 million in local and state tax revenue. Additionally, the arts and cultural industry also keeps our community at work by supporting 6,879 full-time equivalent jobs.

The Ripple Effect

These economic activities and jobs touch much more than just our world-class arts, heritage, and cultural organizations, affecting many different types of businesses in the capital region.

According to this study, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations spent $148.4 million during the fiscal year of 2010. From these funds, arts and cultural organizations make payroll, purchase supplies, and contract a variety of services from vendors and companies within their community. These dollars, in turn, produced $190.2 million in household income for local residents.

Arts audiences and visitors totaling nearly 5 million people contributed an additional $82 million to the local economy through event-related spending such as parking and dining out — an average of $20.35 per person per event. Greater Hartford's vibrant arts, heritage, and cultural organizations, then, assist in the substantiation of the overall health of our local economy by fueling a wide array of businesses and industries.

A Nationwide Occurrence

It's not just a Hartford trend — beyond our region, the arts industry plays a vital role in positively enriching the national economy.

The Americans for the Arts “Arts & Economic Prosperity IV” study reveals the nonprofit arts industry produces $135.3 billion in economic activity every year, resulting in $22.3 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues. In addition, it supports 4.1 million full-time equivalent jobs and generates $86.6 billion in household income.

Our strong local arts community presents one piece of a puzzle that demonstrates the necessity for the United States to support the arts to help maintain the strength of the national economy.

Although an important contributor and driver of the local and national economy, now more than ever the arts need our attention and funding to ensure its fiscal and cultural impact extends to as many individuals as possible in both the present and future.

Taking part in the economic ripple effect of the arts is easier than you might think. Waltz around a museum, see a play at your local theater, or head to a concert — simply go out and enjoy the amazing arts and cultural community in your own backyard. That way, we can, through our own devices, continue to drive the local economy and to protect the arts for many years to come.

Cathy Malloy is the chief executive officer of the Greater Hartford Arts Council. She is the First Lady of Connecticut. For information on the Arts Council, visit

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