Arts give state dramatic boost A player: With an impact of more than $600 million, nonprofit groups rival horse racing as a factor in Maryland's economy.

March 21, 1996|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN STAFF

The total impact of Maryland's nonprofit arts organizations on the state's economy rose to more than $600 million last year, a figure comparable to the state's horse-racing industry, according to a study released yesterday by the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development.

The study found that in 1995, Maryland arts organizations spent a total of nearly $70 million on programs and payroll, employing more than 5,700 people.

The direct economic impact of the arts industry, which came to $290 million last year, was calculated by adding the total spending of arts groups and the related spending of audiences attending performances (including restaurant visits and souvenirs). The study reported that in 1995, an estimated 9.6 million people visited Maryland's nonprofit arts groups, which range from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to the tiny Kinetics Dance Theater in Ellicott City.

The study also measured the impact of secondary spending. This occurs when local vendors who supply arts-related goods and services increase production to meet the demands of the arts industry and when employees of the arts industry and its supporting businesses spend their incomes in Maryland.

The total impact of all such spending came to $634 million last year, according to the report. Furthermore, Maryland's arts industry generated another $21 million in state and local tax revenues in 1995 and spun off about 19,000 full- and part-time jobs statewide.

Sue Hess, president of Maryland Citizens for the Arts, an advocacy group, said the report showed arts have a significant effect on the state's economy as well as its quality of life, and that the economic clout of the arts is comparable to other important state industries.

"The arts have finally come of age as an economic player in the state," she said yesterday. "This report gives credibility to the fact that we need to be at the table with restaurants, hotels and other major industries."

The report, which was unveiled last night during the Governor's Art Awards at ArtSalute program, updated a similar 1989 study. It was commissioned by the Maryland State Arts Council, which co-sponsored last night's event with the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and Maryland Citizens for the Arts.

James T. Brady, the state's Department of Business & Economic Development secretary, said the most recent study reinforced how important the arts have become to Maryland's economy.

"When I compare it to the 1989 report, what I see is some very exponential growth, which didn't surprise me, but I am glad to see it validated," Mr. Brady said. "There is a long history of supporting the arts in Maryland that has served us extremely well."

The 1989 study reported that arts organizations and arts audience activities contributed $357 million to the state's economy overall, and that every dollar contributed to arts organizations by the public and private sectors generated $12.80 in total economic impact statewide.

Nationally, the impact of nonprofit arts groups is also growing, according to the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, an umbrella organization of state arts councils. Its research shows that the nonprofit arts industry generates $36.8 billion annually in economic activity and supports 1.3 million jobs nationwide.

Locally, the new figures suggest that the economic impact of the arts industry is comparable to that of Maryland's thriving horse-racing industry, according to Massoud Ahmadi, an investigator in the research arm of the Department of Business & Economic Development, which prepared the report. However, that $600 million is dwarfed by Maryland's tourism industry, which pumps $5.7 billion annually into the state economy and spins off more than 86,000 jobs. Tourism generates an additional $421 million annually in tax revenues.

The 1996 study suggests that the economic impact of the arts was greatest in the parts of the state with the highest concentrations of arts groups.

Central Maryland (which includes Baltimore and its surrounding counties) had the largest concentration of arts organizations, followed by the Washington suburbs, Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

Southern Maryland had fewer than 1 percent of the state's nonprofit arts groups.

Pub Date: 3/21/96

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