The Greater Augusta Arts Council has partnered with Americans for the Arts to study the economic impact that the arts and culture industry are having on Augusta. We became local partners in the national Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5) study, in which we attended arts and cultural events in Richmond and Columbia Counties to ask people attending those events to fill out a quick, anonymous, one-page survey.
With these surveys we collected data on how much was spent not just to attend events, but how much people spent locally to eat out, or eat at the event, or buy souvenirs, or pay for childcare, or even just to get to the event, etc. We also asked people their zip code, to see what proportion of our city’s arts and culture economy is drawing from locals vs. folks who travel all the way here just to enjoy what we have to offer.
The essential thing to remember is that every dollar spent at a local business stays in our community and helps it grow. When you attend a show, and eat out, and get a babysitter, and grab a taxi that money gets paid to all the people who work to make that happen, here, in our community; this is opposed to dollars given to big box stores, or online vendors, dollars that are immediately out of our local economy for good.
With the data from the AEP5 study, we will be able to show just exactly how much art means business. The results of our AEP5 data will be published by the Americans for the Arts in June 2017.