Study: Arts A Gold Mine For Walnut Creek Coffers

A recent study shows that the non-profit arts activities generate $32.5 million in spending each year.

A new study concludes that non-profit arts ventures in Walnut Creek generate $32.5 million annually, create 865 jobs and deliver nearly $3 million in local and state revenues.

The study, conducted by the national group Americans for the Arts, is called Arts and Economic Prosperity IV. It examined the economic impacts of the arts on 139 cities, 31 regions and 10 states.

The study concluded that Walnut Creek arts activities generate substantially more money than similarly sized cities. According to the study, in 2010 Walnut Creek arts generated $32.5 million in spending, both by the arts community and audiences. Cities of similar size (between 50,000 and 99,000 population) on average generated $10.9 million. The nation overall generated an average of $49 million.

“The City of Walnut Creek’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations provide rewarding employment for more than just administrators, artists, curators, choreographers, and musicians,” the report states. “They also employ financial staff, facility managers, and salespeople. In addition, the spending by these organizations directly supports a wide array of other occupations spanning many industries (e.g., printing, event planning, legal, construction, and accounting).”

The study uses what it calls a “sophisticated analysis” called input-output analysis to arrive at its fiscal conclusions. For instance, under the model, if a theater group purchases a gallon of paint from a local paint store for $200 (an expensive gallon of paint, to be sure), the paint store uses a portion of that purchase to pay the sales clerk, who then spends much of it at a grocery store. The grocery store uses some of that to pay its own clerks, etc.

“This economic impact study sends a strong signal that when we support the arts, we not only enhance our quality of life, but we also invest in the City of Walnut Creek’s economic well-being,” the report concludes.

For the city's part, it raises 75 percent of its Arts, Recreation and Community Services budget from ticket sales. The program includes senior programs and recreation activities as well. The city has budgeted $26 million for the ARCS program for the 2012-2014 budget, $6.6 million of which comes from taxes. The remaining $19.6 million comes from ticket sales, class fees, rentals and sponsorships, said communication manager Gayle Vassar.

The following chart was taken from the study to illustrate the economic effect of the non-profit arts and cultural community on the city.

TOTAL Economic Impact of the Nonprofit Arts and Culture Industry in the City of Walnut Creek
(Spending by Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences)

City of Walnut Creek

Median of Similar Study Regions
50,000 to 99,000

National Median Direct Expenditures $32,483,480 $10,872,627 $49,081,479 Full-time equivalent jobs 865 489 1,533 Resident Household Income $19,621,000 $9,770,000 $35,124,500 Local Government Revenue $1,184,000 $438,000 $1,946,500 State Government Revenue $1,641,000 $519,000 $2,498,000
Jim March 01, 2013 at 04:30 PM
The arts certainly bring a level of positive economic impact to any city. The question is how much? When posing this question it is important for some old school journalistic objectivity to come into play. The study, and others before it, are run by officials associated with the Chamber of Commerce and their "data" is submitted by the cities themselves! In other words the city tells the "study" what the economic impact is (based on different criteria in some cases) and the study, seemingly independent, than tells us-media and the public-the preordained results of said study.
SR March 01, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Don't forget about the positive economic impact to the lawyers that will sue in the child molester case at the Lesher Center, the positive impact of hiring another city employee to replace the molester, the impact of printing up new flyers announcing openings in the plays he was supposed to be in and the child protection training I'm sure some higher ups in the Lesher Center and Center Rep will be required to go through.
Scott F March 01, 2013 at 09:07 PM
There are other live theatres in Walnut Creek. The Lesher is not the only theatre and the others are not implicated in any wrong doing.
michael frederick March 01, 2013 at 10:49 PM
In a city that has library advocates determine library "needs" ($50M), readily adopts developer studies on development impacts, etc. -- I know a question over objectivity is odd: The "study" was by Americans FOR the Arts. We don't have a benign Art program; it's an active ART lobby. Council has an Arts Commission. Silva and the Chamber of Commerce ride White, Wynstra, and Wilk to victory on Neiman Marcus. Former DRAA director Peggy White sits on the DBA BOD. Ceaser encourages council to disenfrachise thousands of petition signers with "I like Art." Art "Insiders" encourage other Insiders not to communicate publicly. "Insiders" question whether child molestation should be handled in-house or brought to WCPD's attention ... It's pretty clear that an Art lobby, Chamber, DBA, and city that invariably partner for mutual political gain -- would do so, here. The applicable term is "SUPPORTING" the Arts. It isn't self-sufficient and requires the massive lobbying efforts above. Local communities that don't have this purported economic juggernaut, have things like school resource officers and a less distorted view on funding priorities. WC needs to stay focused on WC spending priorities -- not just the special interests that coalesce to elect certain individuals. WC shouldn't be spot-lighting Art study and Library hours while the Mayor is in her months' long deliberation over the merits of illegal guns and school safety. She needs to focus and prioritize.
WC Employee March 01, 2013 at 11:30 PM
"She needs to focus and prioritize". Not going to happen. Mayor Silva, like Mayor Simmons before her, is a micro-manager. Instead of listening to city staff and popping in from time to time she is ALWAYS here. I she her coming by my desk on the 3rd floor of city hall constantly. She knows best about everything! Staff is chasing their tails trying to keep up with the newest political priority of the day and very little work is actually getting done. Our leadership is too spineless to tell her enough is enough and stop the damage. I have never seen such a mess in this city in 20 years. The work is focused on the Mayor's priorities instead of those of the entire community. Very dishearting for those of us that live here and see the slow but steady downward spiral.
michael frederick March 02, 2013 at 06:26 AM
WC Employee, Hang in there. This city has been run on the politics of division for the last 25 years. However, the days of senile, autocratic, rule are closing. The paper has been sold and is somewhat more responsible or, at least, less filled with arbitary hype. Mostly, however, we have sites like Patch for public dialog which aren't susceptible to "your 3 minutes are up!" We have a centenniel coming up. It might help people learn about and reflect upon how we got here and put the program into context. Speaking of which, we have new council people like Lawson who point out the need to work on the community vision ... That's really good. We still have good weather and a pretty good, albeit ever more congested, environment. We'll enjoy economic opportunities for as long as we're at the intersection of two freeways, with 2 BART stations. Things may suck short-term but, they'll improve. I look forward to the day, in the not to distant future, when city office workers and police can write-in without feeling the need to assume a fictitious identity! We'll have flushed the political BS that certain discrete groups use to feed at the public trough and it'll be understood, once again, that WC is the priority. Contrary opinions are welcome and will be gauged on merit. Thanks for contributing. The fact you live and work here contributes invaluable balance to this city -- a balance that some, obviously, try to tip when they promote a study by Artists FOR Art.
Samantha Fryer March 02, 2013 at 04:44 PM
The Lesher Center is not the only arts organization in Walnut Creek, and it's certainly not the only live theatre company. It just does so well because the City of WC chooses to fund it and no other theatre company. I think someone should focus on the theatre company that's creating business and community without having to rely on people's tax dollars and a city's self-serving budget.
One more time with feeling March 03, 2013 at 12:21 AM
A "sophisticated analysis" that uses a condescending and incredulous example of an admittedly expensive $200 gallon of paint purchased by a "theater group" lost my interest. I can't help but wonder about the credibility of the rest of the report. If one can "make up" a $200 gallon of paint, what other data is fictitious? For some reason an example $15 gallon of paint would not work. Perhaps this study specifically targeted Walnut Creek where our illustrious City Council overspends for everything (including a $40 million library and planned $25 million pools project). According to the supplied table, above, Walnut Creek's expenditures ($32,483,480) are THREE TIMES MORE than other "Similar Study Regions" ($10,872,627) median. Gosh - there's a start and still be a WAY-over-achiever: Reduce the "Expenditure" to be *only* DOUBLE the other "Similar Study Regions" median. There is no reason for Walnut Creek to be screwing up that curve for the other "Similar Study Regions".
Julie Jepsen-Grant March 04, 2013 at 08:20 PM
If this is really a WC Employee, I wish I could help you. I am glad Michael Frederick replied to you and said, "Hang in there."
One more time with feeling March 06, 2013 at 01:29 AM
@ Mr. Frederick and Ms Jepsen-Grant: That's insightful of you recognizing WC Employee's plea for help. I've worked for a "micro-manager" and still consider that person a "bully". I was successful at what I did, but it was challenging working while constantly being told "it is my way or the highway", condescending pushiness and fake smile and ongoing implied threat of being fired ("because I can"). @ WC Employee: Try to remember, Karma's a ******, too.
RC83 March 06, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Dear SR, It is best that you not speak on matters that you obviously know NOTHING about. It is clear that you have no clue how the facility operates and how theatre is produced and presented. And PS- Please contribute your comments to the subject being discussed in the article.
michael frederick March 06, 2013 at 09:50 PM
What flavor of partisan zombie joins Patch for the express purpose of engaging in personal attack -- by condemning someone for NOTHING by virtue of presenting NOTHING? Hi, Rich. "We'll have flushed the political BS that certain discrete groups use to feed at the public trough" and govern.
One more time with feeling April 01, 2013 at 04:25 AM
Scott F, right you are... http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_22912496/walnut-creek-memo-outlines-employees-failure-report-alleged


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