Ohio Arts’ Big Impact

Executive Director Bill Behrendt.
Executive Director Bill Behrendt.

Creative economy creates growth

“What is the benefit from funding programs that support the arts?” An oft heard inquiry, there are answers relating how art changes lives, fosters a strong community identity, and generally improves our lives. To inspire confidence in the financially conservative, here is a statistic — In Ohio, the arts account for more than $41 billion in economic activity while supporting nearly 290,000 jobs. In Toledo, the creative economy generates $831 million, supports 12,065 jobs, and supplies more than $466 million in wages and proprietor income.

In short, the findings from a study commissioned by Ohio Citizens for the Arts (OCA), developed in conjunction with the Center for Regional Development and Bowling Green State University, conclude that the economic benefit and community synergy realized by support for the arts is powerful. “This study shows conclusively that the arts impact Ohio’s economy in a big way, in both rural and metropolitan areas…. We see that the arts are a powerful economic driver, providing jobs, developing the workforce, attracting talent and contributing to the health of the state by generating revenues that support Ohio’s infrastructure.”

Conclusive evidence

Concerned about the tax dollars that go into the arts? Don’t be— Ohio creative industries generate $4.5 billion in Federal, State and local tax revenue, according to the study.

“Quite simply, these results mean the arts are a major economic driver in Ohio,” said OCA Executive Director Bill Behrendt. “The arts attract new businesses, support tourism, and create and retain jobs. Every public dollar invested in the arts comes back to benefit the state tenfold in tax revenue.”

Diversity of jobs

Despite the typical portrait, of an artist living in a big city, the economic impact of creative industries is not limited to urban areas, or traditional artists. As manufacturing jobs dwindle with the rise of technology and outsourcing, more creative economies, such as technology, service and communication, have emerged as economic drivers.

Behrendt urges Ohioans to consider the breadth and diversity of the arts and creative industries, explaining that, “As we move towards a knowledge-based and creative thinking economy, an arts education will be integral to preparing our children for future employment; the jobs of tomorrow don’t necessarily exist today, and employers are more apt to consider the creativity and out-of-the-box thinking of future employees.”

In addition, rural areas are thriving. “This report shows that… prior to 2015, the Ohio Arts Council had never funded all 88 counties in a biennium, but now, for the second biennium, the OCA has extended funding to communities in all 88 counties through art projects, arts education, capacity building, professional development, and community arts activities.”

A timely conversation

While the OCA has conducted similar studies in the past, 2019 is crucial as it marks the start of a new state budget process— with a new Governor and Speaker of the House, among other positions — the operating budget for the Ohio Arts Council’s Fiscal Year 2020-21 will be determined by considering this evidence of growth.

The National Endowment of the Arts recognizes the growth of arts in Ohio and has compensated the state for its role as a national leader in public arts funding. For seven years in a row, Ohio has earned the second-largest federal grant from the NEA, exceeded only by California, a state with a population more than three times that of Ohio. “It’s evident ‘Ohio punches above it weight’ when compared to other states from the sheer amount of economic activity supported by the creative industries,” adds Behrendt.

In short, the creative industries in Ohio aren’t just an attraction— they are a driving force.

To download the full report or a quick stats summary, visit ohiocitizensfortheartsfoundation.org