Study: Arts boost Oklahoma City economy

Published: Tuesday, September 5, 2017 By: Brian Brus Source: The Journal Record

More than $600 million is spent on arts in the metro area annually, according to a study recently presented to the City Council by the nonprofit Oklahomans for the Arts.

The two-year research project from the Americans for the Arts organization reveals that art has a more tangible economic benefit than typically appreciated, Director Julia Kirt said.

“It’s a myth-buster,” project manager Kelsey Karper said. “This is about changing the conversation from one about charity to one about investing in industry, which supports jobs and generates government revenue. It’s also a key part of tourism.”

Karper said the study included 2015 results from nonprofit organizations nationwide. The private sectors of Broadway theater and mainstream movies were excluded, and no estimates were allowed in reporting.

The Greater Oklahoma City area is doing pretty well, according to the study, although there’s always room for improvement. The metro saw greater economic activity than peer cities such as Nashville, Karper said.

The study found that about 20,600 full-time-equivalent jobs were supported by arts spending in the metro area that year, while state and local government entities received $61.7 million. About one-quarter of event attendees traveled from outside the metro area.

Kirt said the results are particularly timely now as cities and state entities seek ways to bolster economic development. She complimented Oklahoma City Hall for creating a master plan that provides procedural guidance and policy recommendations for reviewing and commissioning public art and installing sculptures on city properties.

She said there’s not enough data to show whether giving to the arts has declined or grown in recent years.

“This helps make the case that money should go to arts activities, both public and private money,” Kirt said. “The community does see a return on those donations.”

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