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More than 3,000 jobs in the city owe their existence to money generated by nonprofit arts organizations, according to a study conducted by Americans for the Arts to determine the economic impact of the arts in cities.

According to the study, nonprofit arts organizations bring in about $90 million to the city’s economy and generate about $4.6 million in local tax revenue. Of the $90 million, about $20.6 million comes from tourists who visit Flagstaff to attend arts and science events. The average amount spent per tourist per event is $86.87.

The amount spent per audience member does not include the ticket for the event itself, which is instead included in the organization’s expenditure total.

Of the $90 million in economic impact, $51 million came from organizational expenditures from nonprofit arts, science and culture organizations. At the unveiling of the study Wednesday afternoon, Flagstaff Arts Council Executive Director John Tannous said the study assumed that the money generated from ticket prices would then be used to cover the organization’s expenditures, which is why it was counted there.

Audience spending outside of their ticket cost, like going out to dinner or staying at a hotel added up to $38 million.

In the Flagstaff portion of the study, 50 nonprofit arts and science organizations provided their financial records in order to calculate organizational expenses. Organizations that participated include The Arboretum, the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, Flagstaff Youth Chorale, Lowell Observatory, the Museum of Northern Arizona, Theatrikos Theatre Company, Northern Arizona University College of Arts and Letters and the Flagstaff Festival of Science.

For-profit art venues and individual artists were not included in the study, so Tannous said the entire impact of all arts and sciences in Flagstaff is actually bigger than the study shows.

Tannous said the 3,000 jobs supported by the $90 million are not necessarily art or science related, but across all business types. In a “worst-case scenario” if there were no arts or science events in the city, the city would lose the $90 million in economic impact and therefore would not be able to support those 3,000 jobs, he said.

The study surveyed 2,748 audience members at various cultural events in the city. Of those surveyed, nearly 27 percent were from outside of Flagstaff.

“Cultural tourists are affluent tourists,” Tannous said. “They tend to stay longer and spend more.”

Of the tourists surveyed, about 36 percent said their primary reason for visiting Flagstaff was to attend a specific arts or cultural event, and 28 percent of the tourists surveyed said if the event was not taking place in Flagstaff, they would have traveled to another city to attend a similar event. Of the local attendees surveyed, about 9 percent said they would have traveled to another community to attend a similar arts event if it were not available in Flagstaff.

In 2012, Americans for the Arts administered a similar study that included Flagstaff, so Tannous said arts leaders in Flagstaff can compare the economic impact from the arts and sciences over time.

In 2012, the total annual economic impact from the nonprofit arts and sciences was $73 million, and the amount spent per tourist per event was $54.78.

“This is modest growth,” Tannous said, adding that the growth shows a need for increasing investment in infrastructure to support the arts and to bring more high quality arts and culture events to Flagstaff.

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The reporter can be reached at or 556-2249.


City Government and Development Reporter

Corina Vanek covers city government, city growth and development for the Arizona Daily Sun.

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