How much is art worth in the South County?

Don Frank, a local photographer and volunteer for the Arts Council of Clatsop County, came to Seaside in late February to share the group’s mission. “We’re trying to put numbers to this idea that art is a value to the community,” Frank said at a meeting of the Seaside Downtown Development Association. “As artists, we appreciate art. It has its own intrinsic value. But we also want to make sure it makes economic sense.”

The Arts Council of Clatsop County serves as an advisory body to the county commission, and was formed in 2014.

The nine members of the council holds monthly meetings in Astoria, Warrenton, Cannon Beach and Seaside, with representatives throughout Clatsop County. Tracy Abel represents Cannon Beach on the council; Seaside members include Seaside Downtown Development Association Executive Director Sarah Dailey, Drea Frost, Katherine Lacaze. Frank and Harold Gable are from Gearhart. County Commissioner Sarah Nebeker, a Gearhart resident, is part of the council’s organizational staff and Theresa Dursse is county liaison.

The arts have grown not just in art or photography, but all forms, Frank said. A 2016 survey revealed demographics of art events attendees, with 800 attendees interviewed. Nonprofit arts and cultural events bring in almost $14 million a year. The sector supports 359 full-time jobs. In comparing Clatsop County to similarly sized counties, the county was above average in attendees and revenue, he said. The arts comprise 5 percent of county revenues.

In 2015, 87,000 residents attended arts events, and 73,000 nonresidents, spending an average of $67 per attendee.

Spending by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations totaled $2.9 million in Clatsop County during 2015. A total of 1,233 volunteers donated a total of 80,328 hours to Clatsop County’s participating nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.

Nationwide, the nonprofit arts industry produces $1.663 billion in economic activity every year, resulting in $27.5 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. In addition, it supports 4.6 million full-time equivalent jobs and generates $23.1 billion in household income.

Adding for-profit businesses and the “multiplier” effect, arts contributions to the local economy are much higher.

“It’s a huge impact when it comes to volunteerism,” Dailey said.

“What this tells us is that arts is an investment, and you can get a return on your investment by spending money on the arts,” Frank said.

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