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The arts bring money, pride to Laguna

Nonprofit arts and culture events provide more than 1,350 jobs in the city and create $4.6 million in local and state revenue, report says.

July 03, 2012|By Barbara Diamond

Art does more than enhance the city's reputation — it pays off.

A June 28 report by Americans for the Arts concluded that Laguna Beach nonprofit arts and culture activities pumped more than $49 million into the local economy in 2010, provided more than 1,350 jobs in town and generated $4.6 million in local and state revenue.

"It is a wise move for the city to support the arts," said Arts Commissioner Pat Kollenda. "People who are drawn to the city by our art and cultural events park in our lots, eat in our excellent restaurants, stay in our hotels and shop in our stores and galleries, as well as buy tickets to events."

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The economic benefit to the city is not news. A similar report was issued five years ago and has been cited often by the city's arts community.

"But the benefit is not just economic," said Kollenda, who is a performer as well as a commission member who advises the city on art-related projects and expenditures. "I think the arts engender great pride in our residents. I feel blessed to live here. We are a family and the arts foster that."

The Arts Commission partnered with Americans for the Arts throughout 2011 on the national survey of the economic impact of nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences to Laguna Beach. The city funded the report and the Visitors and Conference Bureau funded the presentation of the report's findings.

Laguna was one of 182 regions, with populations ranging from 1,600 to 4 million, that participated in the Arts and Economic Prosperity IV study with findings customized for the city. Data was collected from 838 people who attended events in Laguna in 2011.

The study used four economic measures to calculate the impact on the city: full-time equivalent jobs, household income, revenue to local and state governments, which included local and state taxes on income, property, sales, and lodging, as well as funds from license fees, utility fees, filing fees, and other similar sources.

"Understanding and acknowledging the incredible economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture, we must always remember their fundamental value," Americans for the Arts President and Chief Executive Officer Robert L. Lynch said in the report. "They foster beauty, creativity, originality, and vitality."

Nonetheless, the thrust of the report is the economic impact — and it is immense.

The report concludes that the arts mean business.

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