Jason Aldean at Intrust Bank Arena and hip-hop/violin duo Black Violin at the Orpheum weren’t just fun, they were important for the economy.
Just how important is the province of Randy Cohen, vice president of research and policy for Americans for the Arts, a national arts group.
He’ll be in town Friday to spread the message that arts and culture feed the body of the community, as well as its mind and soul.
In a study he did three years ago, he calculated that the city’s nonprofit arts and culture groups spent $37.1 million. Their audience spent another $29.1 million for related expenses beyond tickets – on such things as food, drinks, hotels, limo rides, babysitting and more, equal to $15.25 per person. That created 2,006 full-time jobs.
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Cohen is the featured speaker at the Innovation & Creativity Through the Arts breakfast from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Friday, sponsored by the Wichita Arts Council. Tickets are $15, available through www.WichitaTix.com or by calling 316-303-8100.
Q. 1 How do people receive your message that arts and culture are economic development?
A. People are always amazed to see the numbers, and once they see them, their thinking changes. It’s not an intuitive way to think about the arts, but when they see the data, they become believers and the conversation shifts to how they grow the industry.
Q. 2 Is spending on culture increasing?
A. With the bounce back in the economy, the arts has been on the grow. … We found two key indicators that correlate to the health of the arts. One is overall employment and the other is overall philanthropy. That makes sense: When people are employed they are more likely to attend and contribute to the arts.
Q. 3 How are arts and culture doing in Wichita?
A. I think it’s a very exciting time in Wichita right now. Wichita has a great arts community and it seems poised for quantum-leap growth. Local support seems strong.
Q. 4 How does culture play a part in increasing the workforce in Wichita?
A. Workers in the new economy are very different than when I started in that they are picking the cities in which they want to live and then looking for work … a vibrant cultural community helps put you at the top of their list.
Q. 5 What impressed you about Wichita the last time you were here?
A. In Wichita people really love their elephants (at the zoo). I really loved how people get out of their house and get engaged in Wichita. That is the key to a first-class city.