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June 26, 2022

County’s arts and culture organizations generated $80.4 million annually

25 percent increase in economic impact since 2005
The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $80.4 million in annual economic activity in Sonoma County — supporting 2,684 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $7.4 million in local and state government revenues, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 national economic impact study.
The most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 was conducted by Americans for the Arts, a leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education.
“The arts and creativity are a very important part of Sonoma’s economy and identity,” said Supervisor James Gore, Chair of the county board of supervisors. “This new study demonstrates that the arts are economic contributors, while also providing the community livability and vitality benefits for which the arts are better known.”
Results show that 42 Sonoma County nonprofit arts and culture organizations spent $45.1 million during fiscal year 2015. This spending is far-reaching: organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services and acquire assets within their community.
Locally, organizations that participated in the study included the Healdsburg Center for the Arts, the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, the Healdsburg Museum & Historical Society and the Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation.
“The dollars spent by nonprofit arts groups generated $33.4 million in household income for local residents,” said Ben Stone, executive director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board. “Those residents can then infuse those funds further into our local economy.”
The $80.4 million impact is an increase of $20 million since 2005, the last time this study was completed for Sonoma County. The 25 percent growth comes predominantly from greater spending by existing and new arts organizations over the period. More than a third of the organizations that participated in the 2015 study were new since the previous study and their collective growth in impact includes a 62 percent increase in full-time equivalent jobs.
“I hope we all recognize the powerful impact the arts make on our quality of life here in Sonoma,” said Rick Toyota, Director of Hospitality at Francis Ford Coppola Winery and chair of the Creative Sonoma advisory board. “It’s important to also have hard data to help expand the narrative about the arts impact to include a positive result for our local economy. It’s certainly one reason that Coppola works to sustain our local creative sector.”
In addition to spending by organizations, the national nonprofit arts and culture industry leverages $102.5 billion in event-related spending by its audiences. As a result of attending a cultural event, attendees often eat dinner in local restaurants, pay for parking, buy gifts and souvenirs and pay a babysitter. What’s more, attendees from out of town often stay overnight in a local hotel.
In Sonoma County, a survey of nonprofit arts audience members in 2016 showed that event-related spending generated $35.3 million for the local economy (not including the price of admission to an event), supported 732 full-time equivalent jobs, and generated $3.02 million in local and state government revenues.
Supporting the development of the nonprofit arts and culture industry also helps to retain local dollars. Nearly 50 percent of local audience members said they would have traveled to a different community to attend a similar cultural event, had they not attended the one where they were surveyed.
— submitted by Kristen Madsen, Creative Sonoma