Local arts contribute to Boone County economic growth

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COLUMBIA - Art is food for the soul and the economy.

According to a new study, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $14.7 million in annual economic revenue in Columbia.

Sarah Dresser, of the city's cultural affairs office said the arts are helping local businesses.

“When you go out to see the symphony orchestra play, or a theatre production or go out to a gallery opening, you might stop for dinner on the way there or you might stop for drinks downtown after the event,” Dresser said. “All of that spending in relation to just going to an event, we found that Columbia audiences really are supporting the local community.”

Lisa Bartlett, owner of Artlandish Gallery, has been a part of the North Village Arts District for eight years and she said she attributes the large revenue growth to community efforts.

“Local art does more than just provide a visual aspect. It also supports the economy and the artists. When the artists make money, they spend it locally, so it all comes full circle,” she said.

The study, by Americans for the Arts,  found the arts in Columbia support 659 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $1.28 million in local and state government revenues.

“We found that the average audience spending per event, on top of what they would have maybe spent for ticket price, was $16.57 per event," Dresser said. "We saw that non local attendees, those who came from communities outside of Boone County, spent over twice as much.”

Columbia was one of 341 communities who participated in the study in the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 national economic impact study. It gathered organizations' financial data and surveyed feedback from Columbia and visiting residents about their spending while attending arts events in Boone County.