August 10, 2022
The City of Portsmouth has once again joined the national Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study, a comprehensive survey administered by Americans for the Arts (AFTA) which has helped Seacoast arts and culture nonprofits demonstrate their impact on the local economy. The study is being conducted in 387 communities across the country and represents all fifty states and the District of Columbia.
“Portsmouth is proud to support the Seacoast arts community which was hit so hard by the pandemic,” said Mayor Deaglan McEachern. “We have participated in the AFTA Study since 2010, helping local arts and culture nonprofits quantify their economic impact and demonstrating that they make a concrete contribution to the vibrancy and diversity of the local economy. I urge everyone to participate in the AFTA study – as arts and cultural organizations and as audience members – if you have the chance.”
The Arts & Economic Prosperity® study is conducted approximately every five years. The study surveys audience members to measure how much they spend, in addition to whatever admissions they may pay, on other services such as restaurants, hotels and shopping, and also evaluates what the arts and culture nonprofits spend on wages, services and materials. The last AFTA survey determined that Portsmouth’s arts and culture nonprofits contributed more than $58 million to the local economy, including the direct benefit to the City of taxes and parking revenues.
Greater Portsmouth arts and culture organizations are urged to participate in the study so that the results are as comprehensive as possible. Audience members are encouraged to take the short (8 question) survey when asked. By surveying audiences across all the arts and culture organizations on the Seacoast, AFTA can aggregate the data to produce both a total impact value and then also provide a specific customized economic impact value to each nonprofit. That information is invaluable when arts and culture organizations are fund-raising and applying for grants.
“Data from the AFTA study is one of the most useful and compelling pieces of information an organization like The Music Hall can use when applying for grants and engaging community businesses for sponsorship,” said Tina Sawtelle, Executive Director of The Music Hall. “Time and time again, the AFTA data has provided quantifiable evidence of the positive impact that arts and culture organizations have on the local economy, which ultimately furthers the appreciation and necessity of supporting the arts as an economic driver.”
Barbara Massar, the Executive Director Pro Portsmouth and co-chair of the Committee on Portsmouth Arts and Nonprofits said, “Until we participated in Portsmouth's first AFTA Study, all of our financial impact information was anecdotal. By using the AFTA Study results, we are able to communicate the facts to potential donors, sponsors, and the community. That information: Priceless.”
The 2010 AFTA survey showed the arts in greater Portsmouth had an economic impact of $41 million, which grew to $58 million in the most recent study in 2017. Last year, AFTA estimated that the arts and culture industry nationwide took an estimated hit of $14.6 billion in losses. Whether the AEP6 survey shows an increase or a decrease, AFTA is the national organization keeping track, monitoring how well the arts and culture economy is doing as it works at regaining footing lost during the pandemic. By participating in the study, local nonprofits – and their audiences – help take the pulse of the arts economy and can help its recovery.
The AFTA study helps document the benefits the ‘creative economy’ brings to the city as a whole. “AFTA documents ‘the multiplier effect’ – the concept that spending money in the community keeps the money in the community and creates a stable and sustainable economy,” said Russ Grazier, CEO and Director of Music Education at PMAC and co-chair of the Committee on Portsmouth Arts and Nonprofits that is coordinating the study. “Arts organizations tend to ‘buy local’ and those of us in the creative economy rely on local employment and local expenditures, using local contractors and suppliers; money spent here is not being exported. We’re invested in the ‘buy local’ movement, as we are part of an interconnected economic system in good times and bad. We create the connection with local businesses that we support which in turn support us through sponsorships. When the local economy does well, we do well, and the community benefits.”
Arts and culture organizations not already participating in the survey, which continues through April 2023, should contact committee members Renee Giffroy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Robin Albert (email@example.com) or go to the details on the City website.
For more information and a full list of the communities participating in the AEP6 study, visit www.americansforthearts.org/AEP6.