Arts & Prosperity: Fueling an economic rebound

“ART WASHES AWAY FROM THE soul the dust of everyday life,” Pablo Picasso once said. As it turns out, arts and culture also are sparking needed economic activity during sluggish times.

Despite the recent recession, the arts and culture industry is generating $135.2 billion of economic activity annually, 4.13 million jobs and $22.3 billion in government tax revenue, a new report by Americans for the Arts concludes.

Nonprofit arts and culture groups pump an estimated $61.1 billion into the economy. Dinner and a show go hand-in-hand. An average arts attendee spends $24.60 per event at local businesses, not including the cost of admission. The money goes to local merchants and their communities.

Foothill counties recognize the benefits. “The arts are essential in our rural county,” says Nevada County Supervisor Nate Beason. “They play an important role in enhancing the quality of life, which helps to recruit and retain businesses. They also provide income for a creative workforce and are a cornerstone for tourism.”

Three years ago, the Arts Collaborative of Nevada County was designated by the Board of Supervisors as the lead agency on behalf of the county’s arts groups. The Collaborative is now known as Nevada County Arts, helping to brand the county as an arts-centric region.

The group has developed a website with a comprehensive arts events calendar and artist registry (; it has been an arts advocate with city and county governments, chambers of commerce and other agencies; and it has created a common box office for performing arts.

NCArts has collaborated to create art exhibits in concert with the Wild & Scenic Film Festival; the Sierra Vintners’ Wine Trail; Music in the Mountains’ SummerFest; and the Nevada City Film Festival. It is co-presenting the annual Western Nevada County Open Studio Tour in October.

An Artist’s Best Friend

For as little as $35 annually, Nevada County Arts offers members many benefits. This includes discounts on workshops about art marketing and other topics; a live link to any member’s website; and an opportunity to join in collaborative ads.

Other benefits are e-blasts for events; calls to artists and grant opportunities; and a chance to collaborate and network with other arts groups and artists.

For more information, visit

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