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Measuring the Economic Impact of the Arts

By JON WILSON, Consulting Editor

The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance is a player in a national initiative to show how the arts  boost the bottom lines of community businesses.

ST. PETERSBURG — If you come to an arts event in 2016, you may be asked about the money you spent to attend.

“We will partner with all our Pinellas Arts colleagues to collect surveys from attendees at arts events using a short, anonymous questionnaire that asks how much money they spent on items such as meals, parking and transportation, and retail shopping specifically as a result of attending the event,”  said St. Petersburg Arts Alliance Executive Director John Collins.

As one of nearly 300 study partners across all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, the Arts Alliance will collect detailed financial data about our county’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations, including theater and dance companies, museums, festivals, and arts education organizations.

The study’s purpose is to measure the impact of arts spending on local jobs, income paid to local residents and revenue generated to local and state governments.  Such information is valuable when individuals and businesses make decisions about supporting arts organizations.

Surveys will be collected throughout 2016, with results released in June of 2017.

“As we did with the Arts Shine Here economic development report for St. Petersburg, I expect this study will demonstrate that when we support the arts in Pinellas, we are making an investment in an industry, one that supports jobs and generates government revenue, and is a cornerstone of tourism,” Collins said.

Previous studies have shown that the average attendee spends $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission. Those studies have also shown that, on average, 32 percent of arts attendees travel from outside the county in which the arts event took place, and that those cultural tourists typically spend nearly $40 per person—generating important revenue for local businesses and demonstrating how the arts drive revenue for other businesses in the community.

The Arts Alliance will raise funds to conduct the Pinellas County study.  Nearly 300 regions are participating, including 13 statewide partners, 100 cities or towns, 113 counties, 46 multi-city or multi-county regions, and nine cultural districts.

For a full list of the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study partners, visit For information about the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, visit

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