This editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer encapsulates a huge issue in the arts & culture world right now - though the arts are a robust part of most cities' economies, many arts groups exist on a knife edge of financing each year. And with financial markets in turmoil, there's even more worry happening at many non-profits that rely on individual and corporate contributions and funding from grant making bodies.

The crux of the issue is here, according to the editorial:
Making sure attractions thrive is about more than satisfying the need for creative outlet. It's about dollars and good economic sense: The groups surveyed for the study provide 19,000 jobs, generate $657 million in yearly revenues, and raise $526 million in contributions.

Earlier research on the region's cultural sector tallied $1.3 billion in yearly spending related to the arts, including meals and lodging purchased by audiences. For state and local government, culture is a cash cow, too - generating upwards of $158.5 million a year in taxes.

So it's troubling that the cultural alliance found 40 percent of arts organizations operating with deficits. More than half of these groups were bathed in so much red ink - at least 10 percent of their total revenues - that the cultural alliance considered them in danger of closing.


UNM's Bureau of Business & Economic Research released it's own survey of the arts and cultural industry in Bernalillo County last year. The results were surprisingly similar to Philadelphia's. To wit:

Arts & cultural industries annually generate $1.2 billion in revenues, $413 million in wages, and 19,500 jobs, totally 6% of all employment in the County.

That, by the way, is more than sports or Intel contribute to the local economy.

The BBER study didn't ask how the arts & culture groups were doing financially, except in noting that all of them expressed a need for more and sustainable funding. This isn't a new complaint, and was one of the components of the City/County cultural plan during both its first and second incarnation.

There is currently NO cultural plan for the City/County. There's a conversation happening right now about what a unified arts and cultural blueprint might look like. This group, make up of business folks, artists, arts group representatives and other interested persons.

My questions are these: Where does ABQ's art scene go now? Is sustainable funding what the community should work toward (something akin to the Quality of Life Initiative of 2006)? Is there something different ABQ's art and culture world needs or wants?

Views: 2

Comment by tinsree on October 5, 2008 at 9:52pm
no answers, but i enjoy the questions you propose. i know mccune did a study a few years ago headed up by suzanne sbarge. ideally the arts alliance would be a resource but folks say they sort of fell apart.
Comment by Kelly on October 6, 2008 at 8:02am
What do you mean about the Arts Alliane, Tinsree?

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