QC arts/cultural sites are part of the Iowa Economic Study

Quad Cities organizations and audiences will be surveyed as part of a new partnership with the Iowa Arts Council.

Cultural organizations in 10 Iowa communities are encouraging their visitors and patrons to consider the economic impact of the arts across the state.

The Putnam Museum and Science Center in Davenport is among the many cultural organizations in the area being surveyed (photo: Jonathan Turner).

Audience surveys are distributed to selected QC organizations, venues, etc. to measure audience spending as a result of attending an arts/culture event in the region, including restaurants, hotels, etc.

Other surveys are also distributed to 177 organizations (including schools) in Iowa and Illinois QC to measure economic impact — including income, expenses, attendance, in-kind contributions, staff and volunteering.

The research — also conducted in Ames, Greater Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Council Bluffs, Greater Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City, Marion, Mason City and Sioux City — is Iowa’s contribution to the national Arts & Economic Prosperity Study, the most influential a government publication, this is a research project of its kind in the US.

The study is organized by the nonprofit Americans for the Arts with the help of state arts agencies such as the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

“We know that in a typical year, Iowa’s creative sector contributes more than $4 billion to the state’s economy and employs more than 43,000 creative workers statewide,” said Chris Kramer, director of the Iowa Department of Culture. “This study focuses on the impact of the arts at the local level, helping community leaders and residents understand how cultural anchor organizations generate tourism, foster jobs, and contribute to vibrant, prosperous communities.”

Ballet Quad Cities is among 177 QC organizations asked to measure economic impact – including revenue, expenses, attendance, in-kind contributions, staff and volunteerism.

“Arts and cultural events directly support the livelihoods of diverse artists, creatives and local businesses, including hotels and restaurants, that depend on cultural tourism,” said David Schmitz, administrator of the Iowa Arts Council.

The current study started in May 2022 and will be completed in spring 2023 before the results are published in July. A variety of non-profit arts and cultural organizations participate, including performing arts venues, museums, film and theater groups, cultural festivals and historic sites.

How art contributes to the local economy

Host websites distribute post-event surveys to better understand how arts and cultural organizations contribute to local economic growth and a healthy tax base through event-related activities and purchases.

For example, a family visiting a museum can also have lunch and shop at a local small shop nearby. A couple attending a concert can eat out beforehand, pay for parking and stay at a nearby hotel.

The Bix Beiderbecke Museum in Davenport is also among the local organizations being consulted for the Iowa art study (Photo: Jonathan Turner).

The study also records the annual expenditures of the same cultural organizations, the number of full-time employees and the contributions to local government revenues.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity Study was previously conducted five times and included individual cities in Iowa, but the current project is Iowa’s first statewide survey, the state publication said.

The most recent edition, published in 2015, revealed that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity and supported 4.6 million jobs across the country. The Iowa portion of this study showed that in the Des Moines metro area alone, the arts had an annual economic impact of $185 million and accounted for more than 5,600 full-time jobs.

For more information about Americans for the Arts or the Arts & Economic Prosperity study, visit americansforthearts.org.