Arts have been a boon to state economy


Wisconsin’s non-profit arts and culture organizations have been a boost for the economy, despite the recent recession, according to a national study by Americans for the Arts.

When times are tough, people still go to museums, the theater, or music performances. The Arts and Economic Prosperity Study found in 2010, arts organizations and audiences spent $535 million in Wisconsin, excluding ticket sales. That generated almost $65 million in tax revenues.

Wisconsin Arts Board Executive Director George Tzougros says he was pleasantly surprised with the arts community’s resilience during an economic downturn. While he doesn’t need dollar figures to sell him on the importance of the arts, Tzougros says he hopes the economic report changes the minds of skeptics:

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“The arts aren’t simply a charity that money goes into a black hole, but in fact, the money generates economic impact and jobs, and tourists as well.”

Americans for the Arts looked at the economic impact in a number of Wisconsin communities, including La Crosse.

La Crosse Community Theatre Executive Director David Kilpatrick says the study’s results could help organizations solicit donations and sponsors:

“It just inspires others who are outside of the arts to understand and appreciate, wow, there’s value to these arts groups and there’s important things they’re doing and bringing to the community and I need to support that.”

The Americans for the Arts study also found that tourists who travel to an arts event will spend more money in a community than a resident attending the same event.