Delaware Public Media

First State arts groups tout economic impact study

Jan 16, 2018

Local arts groups are making the case Delaware gets its money’s worth from arts funding.

The Delaware Arts Alliance presented Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long and lawmakers results of a new study detailing the economic impact of the arts in the First State.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study, conducted by Americans for the Arts,  found Delaware’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $149.9 million in annual economic activity. 103.6 million of those dollars are spent by organizations, while $46.3 million is spent by audiences.

The study – based on fiscal year 2015 numbers – also found arts organizations in the First State supported just over 4,000 full-time jobs and generated $10.5 million in local and state government revenues, with $ 8.6 million going to state coffers and $1.8 million to local governments.

Delaware Arts Alliance Executive Director Jessica Ball says her organization believes that’s an important story to tell.

"The state puts money into the arts and its important for legislators and the public to understand that the money is then turned into revenue for the state," said Ball.  "The money that comes to the arts sector is not just charity."

Lt. Gov Hall-Long agrees, saying the number found in the study should help people better understand the impact spending on the arts can have.

"People don’t always think about that with the arts.  They think perhaps about catching a movie or buying a piece of art at a museum. They don’t always think about the long-term implications.  And today [we heard about] the ripple effect," said Hall-Long.

And Ball says that ripple effect goes beyond dollars and cents.

"Not everyone has access to the arts, but a lot of our nonprofit organizations are able to use state funds to expand their programming to people in state facilities or senior centers or in schools where they might be that person’s first time at an arts event," said Ball  "And it could change their life, or it might just change the way they feel that day, but maybe that’s enough."

The Delaware Arts Alliance specifically pointed to the Christina Cultural Arts Center's work with children in Wilmington and Delaware Shakespeare's new programming at places like the Baylor Women's Correctional Institution, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Ferris School for Boys and the Stockley Center as examples of efforts aided by state funds that are producing a strong community impact.

Delaware Division of the Arts received a little over $4 million in state funding for the current fiscal year to support artists and arts organizations, that's a decrease of about $70,000 from the prior year.

Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.