The arts generate millions for Lake County, study shows

The world of the arts can be big business.

The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates more than $9.1 million in annual economic activity in Lake County, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 national study. The industry supports more than 200 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $380,000 in local revenue.

Lake County participated in what’s described as the most comprehensive study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever in the United States, a county news release states. Americans for the Arts, based in New York, conducted the study.

In late 2015, the Lake County Arts & Cultural Alliance began handing out surveys asking attendees how much money they spent on items such as meals, transportation, and retail shopping as a result of attending an event. Several local organizations, including the Lake Concert Band, Brenda Heim Studios, Mount Dora Center for the Arts, Leesburg Center for the Arts, and Lake Eustis Museum of Art, also participated.

Results show that local arts organizations spent $1 million during fiscal year 2015, with event-related spending by attendees totaling $8 million, the release states. This spending is far-reaching: organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services, and acquire assets within their community. Those dollars, in turn, generated nearly $3.7 million in household income for local residents.

“Lake County was proud to take part in this national study of 341 regions, including major cultural epicenters like Miami and Chicago,” County Commissioner Wendy Breeden says in the release. “And just like in those large cities, results show that our vibrant arts community here in Lake County not only encourages residents to use their discretionary funds closer to home, it also attracts visitors who help local businesses thrive.”

The study confirms that residents attending a cultural event often dine locally, pay for parking, buy souvenirs, and hire a babysitter, and out-of-town visitors often stay overnight at local hotels, supporting the county’s Tourist Development Tax. These funds are then earmarked to further promote Lake County as a tourist destination and build infrastructure to attract future travelers, the release states.

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