I had a chance last Friday (June 27) to attend some of the sessions at the first-ever Impact Arts & Culture Conference at York College. The event, organized by the Cultural Alliance of York County and York College, draw a crowd of about 140 people. The attendees were not just from York, but came from Lancaster and beyond.
One of the sessions I attended was on the economic impact of the arts in the southcentral Pennsylvania region. The numbers are impressive.
In the Greater Harrisburg area, including York, more than $54.4 million was spent by nonprofit arts and culture groups and their audiences in fiscal year 2010, according to a study by Americans for the Arts, a Washington, D.C.-based organization.
A separate study shows that in York County alone, 3,778 people work in 771 businesses in what are called “the creative industries.”
The employment figure includes artists, actors and musicians and people who work behind the scenes for nonprofits like museums and theaters. The number also includes folks who work for for-profit, creative businesses like advertising, architecture and design firms.
Hannah Jacobson, research director for Americans for the Arts, told the audience that cultural tourism is a growing trend. Tourists are traveling to destinations where they can browse art galleries, catch a live theater performance or attend a concert. Those visitors spend money when they come to town staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and shopping.
“People are interested in authentic experiences, and the arts and culture are such a big part of showing what our communities are about,” Jacobson said.