Every community landscape needs arts and culture.
Arts and culture aren’t just paintings and sculptures to make the community look pretty. They create jobs, stimulate local economies, and connect residents and visitors to the city.
When considering where to make your investments, make your portfolio balanced — and this should include an investment in the arts. While they’re not typically the first investment options you think of, civic arts and culture provide a valuable service to communities. And even though the ROI for promoting the arts might be more complex than your typical startup investment, it can have a much greater impact.
5 Ways Arts and Culture Boost ROI
A successful public arts project is guaranteed to provide value to its sponsors and community. Here are a few ways that civic arts and entertainment can provide an impactful return on your investment:
- Stimulate the economy: Public arts generated $135.2 billion in economic activity in 2010. According to one report, $61 billion of that came from nonprofit organizations, and $74 billion came from attendees’ spending outside of event costs. The report also showed that nonprofit arts and participants generated $22.3 billion in tax revenue.
- Support and promote local businesses: People who attend these events spend money on local products and services. The average arts event attendee spends $24.60 beyond the cost of the event. Event participants go out to eat, shop, hire taxis, and stay in hotels — all of which benefit local businesses.
- Attract talent: The arts industry supports more than 4.1 million jobs. A strong arts and culture sector leads to graphic designers, software developers, and other professionals wanting to live and work there. Public arts enable businesses to attract the best creative talent.
- Promote urban renewal and tourism: Tourists are drawn to communities with thriving public arts and entertainment scenes. Research has consistently shown that tourists seeking artistic entertainment stay longer and spend more money than the typical traveler. Tourism dollars reenergize neighborhoods and historic areas.
- Strengthen the sense of community and improve residents’ quality of life: One study found that residents feel most attached to communities with social offerings and aesthetic appeal. Entertainment venues, gathering places, beautiful architecture, and green spaces all contribute to what makes people love where they live.
If you invest in something that benefits the economy and the community as a whole, you’re bound to reap the benefits, too. Involvement with arts and culture can boost your reputation and provide valuable return on your investment.
3 Projects With Huge Returns
“The Bean” is an icon in Chicago. It’s a landmark — something people travel to see. But Chicago’s not the only city to reap the benefits of embracing the arts. Here are three public arts and culture projects — other than Cloud Gate —that have provided significant returns:
- Alterpolitan – With the help of sponsors and gardeners, the first floor of Chicago’s Inland Steel Building was transformed into an indoor garden complete with grass, plants, and sculptures. Residents and tourists came to enjoy the peaceful oasis downtown that was left empty after the Great Recession. The exhibit provided value to property owners in the entire downtown neighborhood. After seeing the attention this historic building received, the owners renovated the space, which is now a coffee shop.
- Long Beach Symphony Orchestra – This long-standing California group hosts world-renowned musicians and directors and provides direct value to Long Beach. Attendees purchase 40,000 tickets annually, not to mention the significant spending on meals, souvenirs, and transportation. The orchestra employs many full- and part-time employees, and it encourages local businesses to develop services that appeal to patrons who receive special discounts through strategic partnerships.
- “EYE” – Most Chicago residents recall the 30-foot eyeball that dominated downtown’s Pritzker Park in 2010. The sculpture by a local artist was part of an effort to revitalize one area of a neighborhood, and it became a tourist magnet that transformed the underused park into an activity hub. Tourists and Chicago residents who came to see “EYE” also explored the community, shopped at local retailers, and ate at local restaurants. The project brought people together and fostered networking and collaboration.
Why You Should Invest
Despite the large-scale attraction to many arts and culture projects, we usually think of donating to the arts — not investing. But an investor maintains an intentional, active role in the project with an eye on how it will actually deliver a return. Here are three reasons you should get involved in arts and entertainment projects:
- Public and civic art projects need consistent funding. Exhibitions and events can be expensive, and reliable cash flow is necessary to plan and execute successful projects.
- These projects need leadership and experience. Passionate, driven leaders are essential to seeing a project through to completion. This type of leadership often comes from corporate investors, who bring much-needed expertise and business knowledge to the table.
- They offer valuable exposure to sponsors. The positive reputation boost you can get from investing in the arts is invaluable. Being part of these projects shows you’re invested in your community and willing to unselfishly contribute to improving the quality of life in an area.
One thing investors have in common is that they don’t want to miss out on a good investment. What they might not agree on, however, is what constitutes a good investment.
When a public art project is established, it encourages engagement, creativity, and even critical thinking. These projects create jobs, stimulate the local economy, and connect residents and visitors to the city — and the benefits remain long after the project has disappeared.
So if you’re looking for an investment with promising, impactful ROI for the community and your company, look to arts and culture. The astounding benefits you can receive might surprise you.