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Art scene keeps dollars moving in South Carolina

Creative Industries
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The Peace Center in Greenville recently announced its 2018-19 Broadway series lineup. And fans of some of the most popular shows from the Great White Way will scurry for tickets to the tune of about $23 million annually, according to Taryn McNamara, director of communications for the Peace Center.

“We estimate the Peace Center’s overall local economic impact to be about $35 million annually, based on calculations provided by Americans for the Arts,” McNamara said. That total includes the Broadway series and the other shows and productions at the Peace Center each year.

“For the 2016-2017 season, which is the most recently completed, we welcomed more than 300,000 patrons at nearly 350 ticketed events,” McNamara said.

(Photo/Provided)Statewide, the arts-related sector adds $9.7 billion to the state’s economy each year through jobs, tax revenue and spending, according to a study by the South Carolina Arts Commission. It is estimated that the cluster of economic activities around the arts yields state tax revenue of $269 million, about 3.9% of the state’s revenue base, according to the commission. Also, 114,987 jobs are support by the arts, which represents 5.2% of the state’s employment base.

According to the study, the arts form a cluster like other large sectors of the state’s economy. Along with manufacturing and agriculture, “the arts-related cluster is a linchpin of state and local economic development.” It goes on to conclude that, “from any perspective, these are considerable economic benefits,” according to study author Douglas Woodward, professor of economics at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. Woodward examined 2014 data from the U.S. census and economic analysis bureaus and commerce department to complete the report, analyzing the South Carolina economy associated with the arts, design, crafts and related activities.

“Arts provide value beyond what we can quantify and create a strong quality of life and is even critical in attracting and retaining a strong workforce,” Woodward told GSA Business Report. “Communities are seeing the value in the arts.”

Woodward expects to use the information he gained from the 2014 data as a benchmark for future studies on the impact of the arts in South Carolina.

In Spartanburg, the Chapman Cultural Center stands at the center of the cultural scene downtown. The S.C. Arts Commission reports it has an annual economic impact of $13.5 million. The nonprofit arts and culture sector as a whole in the greater Spartanburg area generated $32 million in total economic activity each year, according to Americans for the Arts.

Spartanburg is one of eight municipalities in the state to have a designated cultural district. The other places are Rock Hill, Lancaster, Congaree Vista, Beaufort, Bluffton, Florence and Greenwood. A cultural district is a geographic area that has a concentration of cultural facilities, activities and assets. It is a walkable area that is easily identifiable to visitors and residents and serves as a center of cultural, artistic and economic activity, according to the S.C. Arts Commission.

Spartanburg was awarded cultural district status in 2015. The district covers about four blocks from Barnet Park to Spartanburg Community College's downtown campus on Kennedy Street, west on Kennedy to the Grain District, and bordered on its northern edge by Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium. The area includes 21 indoor live performance venues, nine outdoor performance venues, 43 galleries or exhibit spaces and 38 murals and other public art displays. There are also five museums, 64 studios and workshops, six historic sites and 15 green spaces and arboretums. In addition, there are 251 creative industry and cultural jobs and 1,335 events and festivals open to the public, according to the city of Spartanburg.

In addition to the Peace Center, the city of Greenville boasts a variety of performing arts venues and cultural events. These include the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Centre Stage, Greenville Symphony Orchestra and the Children’s Museum.

With tourism being South Carolina’s largest industry, arts attractions — from the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston and the Newberry Opera House to Artisphere in Greenville and the South Carolina Jazz Festival in Cheraw — draw tourists who stay longer and spend more than the average tourist, according to the Travel Industry Association of America.

Reach Teresa Cutlip at 864-720-1223.

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