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Study: arts are a big business on a little island

Cultural events and galleries pump nearly $9 million into local coffers annually.

Forget the clichés about starving artists.

Art is big business on Bainbridge, according to the results of a new study, to be presented at today’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

“It’s confirming,” said Zon Eastes, director of the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council. “Anyone who’s spent time in the arts knows the kind of cultural value it has for the community. We’ve always suspected that the arts also have a strong economic value – this bears that out.”

Nonprofit arts and humanities is an annual $8.66 million industry on Bainbridge, according to the Arts and Economic Prosperity study, conducted by the national nonprofit, Americans for the Arts.

Bainbridge Island was one of 156 communities that participated in the study, which tracked the impact of the arts on local economies.

In all, 25 island arts nonprofits reported a total of $4.88 million in spending in 2005, and generated $3.78 million into local restaurants, hotels and businesses.

The latter totals were tabulated based on surveys filled out by attendees at island arts events and performances.

Of those attendees, 37 percent came from off-island. On average, they spent about $48 per visit, not including admission prices; islanders spent an average of $20 per outing, outside of admission costs.

The local arts industry also supports 195 full-time jobs and generates $743,000 in local and state tax revenue, the study said.

This year’s study was the third such study done by Washington D.C.-based Americans for the Arts. Locally, it was coordinated by the BIAHC, with funding from the city.

The full report, including additional numbers and commentary, will be presented by representatives of the local arts community at 11:30 a.m. today at Wing Point Golf and Country Club.

The study is also online at www.artshum.org.

After today’s event, presenters will make the rounds to other community organizations to share the data.

Eastes said the only problem now is finding comparable statistics for other island industries. Still, he’s pleased with the news.

“Hopefully this will encourage us to invite more off-island people to partake in the local arts,” he said. “It’s good for the community and the economy.”

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Economic value

BIAHC Executive Director Zon Eastes will discuss the economic impact of the arts on Bainbridge Island at today’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon, 11:30 a.m. at Wing Point Country Club. Lunch costs $14, and the event is open to the public. Call 842-3700.

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