The Orange County Arts Commission (OCAC) announced last week the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $130.3 million industry in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough.
This sector also supports 5,001 full-time jobs and generated $12.5 million in local and state government revenue in 2015, according to the report. Director of the Orange County Arts Commission Katie Murray said the arts are vital to the local community.
“The arts are important for every part of our lives; they impact everything, from the success rates of our children in schools to crime rates to the economy,” she said.
Orange County is a hub for the arts. Murray said there are 170 arts and cultural related nonprofits in the county. She also said because Orange County is part of the Triangle region, it would be easy to think that people want to go to Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham or one of the several large art centers in Raleigh. However, the study done shows that many Orange County nonprofit arts attendees are not from the local area.
Carolyn Allmendinger, director of academic programs at the Ackland Art Museum, said the report is both surprising and rewarding.
“It’s a wonderful thing to have data to support what many of us in the arts and cultural field know intuitively is true,” Allmendinger said.
People who work for art centers are local and the arts industry generates several thousand jobs for Orange County. Tom Stevens, mayor of Hillsborough, said he's glad about the positive impact of the arts on Orange County's economy.
“These jobs support local people who I know and care about," Stevens said. "There are people who make their livelihood through the arts."
Dan Mayer, director of the ArtsCenter in Carrboro and OCAC member, said the ArtsCenter is a major employer in the industry and generates a lot of economic activity.
Tourism plays a dynamic role in generating economic activity, for instance, people going to art centers and events also eat at local restaurants, stay at hotels and buy gas, Mayer said.
“In tough times, people need the arts to express all the different things they are feeling," Mayer said. "The arts are a way of gathering and talking about issues and opportunities in our community.”
Allmendinger said after learning about the study she's excited to see where the nonprofit arts industry goes next in Orange County.
“You might be able to find something interesting or something exciting outside of what you already know is your major interest,” she said.
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