Here's some news that could make South Florida lawmakers rethink their wavering commitment to cultural events like Sleepless Night: During 2010, arts spending in Miami-Dade County topped $1 billion, according to Arts and Economic Prosperity IV, a report released Friday by the arts advocacy organization Americans for the Arts.
The report, which Americans for the Arts vice president of research and policy Randy Cohen describes as "an economic study of the impact of nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences," shows spending by arts and culture organizations at nearly $674 million over the course of the year, with audience spending at just over $400 million. The result is a whopping $1,076,183,558 -- the highest amount of spending in any of the Florida counties surveyed.
Spending on that level shows that the arts can help to power an economy, even in a recession. Americans for the Arts found that people attending cultural events in Miami-Dade spent an average of $29.61, not including the cost of admission, on things like parking, babysitting, transportation, and food. In Miami Beach alone, that number rises to $30.79; in the city of Miami, audiences spend $34.69 on average.
And that spending, in turn, creates jobs -- 29,792 of them, according to the report.
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Miami-Dade cultural affairs department director Michael Spring told the Miami Herald the strength of cultural spending in South Florida is all about the major investments the city has made in the arts since the last report in 2005, including the Arsht Center and the New World Center. It's also hard to imagine such a strong showing without the Knight Foundation's constant support of Miami artists and arts organizations.
Still, there is some bad news. Nationally, audience spending on the arts has dropped 11 percent since 2005 -- not surprising in a time of recession, when many Americans were scaling back on non-essential expenses. And though nationwide, the arts industry generated $135.2 billion in economic activity, arts organizations are still giving just 7.8 percent of their total expenditures to the artists themselves. We get that you've gotta pay your organizers, but that just seems unfair.