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Arts a $300M Industry in ABQ Area

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The arts in the Albuquerque area is an industry that contributes more than $300 million a year to the local economy, according to three national studies of the arts that were described Wednesday to members of the Economic Forum.

Randy I. Cohen, a vice president with Americans for the Arts, a national arts advocacy organization, said his group’s survey showed that nonprofit arts organizations generated $61.6 million in economic activity in Albuquerque in 2010, through their payrolls and purchases of goods and services. Another $30.3 million was contributed by event-related spending, including meals, lodging and other spending by people attending arts events.

Cohen said that activity supported 3,674 jobs in Albuquerque in 2010.

Two other studies show that for-profit arts organizations generate $142 million in revenue and sales in 2010, and individual artists sold $74.2 million worth of their products, according to Susan Pentecost, a consultant to Creative Albuquerque.

Pentecost said 12,027 people in Bernalillo County are employed in “creative occupations.”

Americans for the Arts, using economic modeling and data analysis provided by Georgia Tech economists, found that nonprofit organizations and their audiences generated $135.2 billion in economic activity nationally in 2010.

Cohen said a survey of 804 consumers of nonprofit arts events in Albuquerque showed that the average consumer spent $19.69 per event on goods and services other than the event itself, including purchases such as restaurant meals and parking.

“Arts are an industry,” Cohen said. “Arts are a business.”

Cohen said state and local governments spend about $5 billion a year supporting the arts and receive $11.6 billion in tax revenue as a result.

“We are not funding a frill,” he said. “We are supporting an industry.”
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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