Arts Charity Leaders: The Economic Impact Argument Has Become a Losing Proposition…Move On

money message

From ArtsFund, Seattle:

“Together the activity of nonprofit arts organizations [in our region]…generates close to $2 billion in the Central Puget Sound’s economy creating 32,520 jobs, $882 million in labor income and $83 million in taxes.”

From Viking Stadium (new NFL stadium), Minneapolis:

“Construction will support approximately 13,000 jobs…almost $300 million in wages…upon completion, 3,400 full and part-time jobs…the economic activity from a new stadium will generate over $26 million per year in tax revenue and over $145 million in direct spending by Vikings fans inside the State of Minnesota.”

From McDonald’s:

“McDonald’s provides tax revenue for local, state and national governments…$1.3 billion in United States national and state corporate taxes in 2011…McDonald’s spends hundreds of millions upgrading or building new locations.”

Let’s move on to quantifying our outcomes before we bury ourselves with more “economic impact” studies.  It’s just not a winning argument for the arts.


2 responses

  1. I don’t think mission-driven impact and economic impact are mutually exclusive. The mission is why arts organizations are in business; the economic impact is the result of a healthy arts community.


  2. At least in the arts you are not actively harming your communities in exchange for the economic activity. Low-wage, part-time employers that drive local businesses out, treat their workers like dog excrement, and rely on the taxpayers to subsidize their profits with public benefits for their impoverished workforce do more harm than good. And that’s before you even talk about the “food.”


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