Kara Robbins

Kara Robbins

I work in Newton, a moderately affluent suburb outside of Boston. Newton is blessed with a community of smart, talented, hard-working, and well-rounded individuals and families. Essentially, it’s the target audience for the arts—except these folks are busy!

When the Newton Cultural Alliance (NCA), an umbrella organization for participating arts and culture nonprofits, incorporated in 2009, Newton had 2 orchestras, 2 large music schools, 4 choruses, 3 visual arts organizations, 2 community theaters, 2 high school theaters, 1 nationally recognized ballet school, a museum, 3 colleges, and more.

On the business side, while Newton is one city, it is divided into 13 villages so there is no distinct city center, but rather many village centers. In theory, this is a very endearing idea but in practice, it is somewhat divisive and, until some recent efforts, no merchant association has succeeded in uniting the businesses or the community.

That being said, our local businesses are extremely supportive of area nonprofits and are always willing to donate to auctions, hang flyers, and participate in special events. In and of itself, this is a very helpful stance but it doesn’t build long-lasting or thriving relationships that will truly make a change in the community. That’s where NCA has picked up the ball.  Read the rest of this entry »

For Lee County, Economic Impact Data is a Homerun for the Arts

Posted by Lydia Antunes Black On July - 12 - 2012

Lydia Black

The Southwest Florida nonprofit arts community has always argued the economic and social value of the arts community. We’ve advocated on behalf of our creative community; engaged the public in conversations about the depth and breadth of our cultural offerings; boasted large attendance numbers; and, painted a picture of arts as placemakers and the heart and soul of community.

And until recently, we advocated for the arts by estimating economic impact numbers, by supposing that indeed there was an economic impact. Our advocacy lacked the confidence that would have been buttressed by language informed by hard data. Well not anymore.

With the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study in hand, we can definitively say that our arts and culture industry is an economic and social powerhouse. In 2010, during arguably the worst economy in recent memory, Lee County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $68 million, supported more than 2,000 full-time jobs, and pumped $9 million into local and state coffers.

For a county that speaks the language of baseball, that number is more than the estimated $45–50 million generated here by the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins, combined.

Many in the cultural community have lamented the fact that the arts industry is always justifying its existence to state and local officials in return for small investment dollars. Yet, at the same time, many of us in the arts community were doing nothing to change our language to that which public officials and business leaders could relate—namely dollars, jobs, and return on investment.

The economic impact study results have already helped to shift the discussion of the arts industry from one of entertainment, education, and inspiration to one of the arts industry as an integral economic engine in the county. Read the rest of this entry »