The first GSBA business luncheon of 2015 focused on the Business of the Arts, featuring a stellar lineup of arts leaders from around our city. Kate Becker, the Director of the Seattle Office of Film & Music moderated the panel of David Armstrong (Artistic Director, 5th Avenue Theatre), Kevin Boyer (Director of Marketing & Communications, ACTTheatre), Linda Hartzell (Artisitic Director, Seattle Children’s Theatre) and Ellen Walker (Executive Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet). No doubt we all know that Seattle is a national leader in arts and culture, but the stories and statistics that each of the panelists shared were still surprising.
First and foremost, everyone should take a glance at this report on Arts & Economic Prosperity IV: in the City of Seattle conducted by Americans for the Arts. It details the $447.6 million arts industry in Seattle, which supports over 10,000 full-time equivalent jobs and generates over $38 million in local and state government revenue. Seattle ranks first in the nation on the number of arts-related business per capita. Business Insider ranked Seattle as its Best City for Culture.
Kevin Boyer added that the National Endowment for the Arts shows that the arts and culture industry contributes 4% to the national GDP, which is more than even the construction industry! The arts are not simply a luxury – they are a driving sector of our economy, as well as a defining industry of our region.
We asked the panelists for their important take-away messages from the event:
Kevin Boyer, ACT
The way that businesses can benefit from using our local arts organizations to promote their businesses through sponsorships.
Ellen Walker, PNB
Two important takeaways were around how crucial Seattle’s arts organizations have become in providing children with more than a cursory exposure to arts (despite decades of research about the lifetime benefits of early exposure to the arts). I thought it was also noteworthy that it’s very common for arts orgs to experience challenges attracting young adults to their venues; naturally, I thought it was just us! David Armstrong’s point about people in their 20’s and 30’s being resistant to engagement throughout the history of American live performance was very reassuring.
David Armstrong, 5th Avenue Theatre
1. It is vitally important for business leaders to be active advocates for the arts and spread the word to their peers about how significant the arts are to our region.
2. Seattle is one of America’s three great centers of live theater. They are New York, Chicago and Seattle. No other cities have the quality and quantity of theater that we do.