Study shows arts generate nearly $15 million in economic development

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COLUMBIA – The Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 national study found that nonprofit arts generates $14.7 million annually and supports 659 jobs in Columbia.

The study also found the industry generates $1.3 million in local and state government revenues.

Columbia was one of 341 communities across the country to participate in the study, which looked at fiscal year 2015 numbers.

"It really shows us that the arts are an investment in Columbia," Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs Program Director Sarah Dresser said.

She said the Office of Cultural Affairs plans to contribute $108,500 to art organizations in Columbia.

"People might question public funding for the arts when we should be supporting jobs and helping the economy grow, well this study shows that the arts mean business in Columbia," Dresser said.

Columbia Art League Education Director Karen Stout said her organization generates about $65,000 in economic activity per year, including about $20,000 per year in teacher salaries.

She said while the Columbia Art League doesn't rely heavily on local, state and federal money, that money has a big impact on many arts organizations in Columbia.

In his fiscal-year 2018 budget, president Donald Trump proposed eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which currently has a budget of $150 million. Though the NEA survived the first budget showdown of 2017, it future remains unclear.

Stout said the loss of public funds would make it harder for organizations that specialize in less-profitable work, such as reaching out to at-risk youth, to survive.

"Certainly, those federal budgets and those kinds of the decisions will trickle-down to the local level," she said.