Arts and cultural organizations are a significant economic force in Saratoga County, generating more than $80 million in annual economic impact, supporting over 2,600 direct and indirect jobs, and serving more than 6.8 million patrons, including many tourists attracted to the county, according to a new report.
The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership unveiled in June its inaugural Saratoga County Cultural Index that contained the statistical information.
In creating the index, the Saratoga Partnership gathered information from 2016, including revenue, expenditures and attendance figures, from two dozen Saratoga County institutions presenting performing and visual arts, museums, and entities focused on preservation, history, and culture. It then applied metrics developed by Americans for the Arts, the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, which annually reports on the arts and culture industry’s national economic impact.
“Along with supporting a vibrant quality of life, our world-class arts and cultural institutions pump considerable dollars into our community,” said Marty Vanags, Prosperity Partnership president. “The Saratoga County Cultural Index makes it clear these organizations are critical partners in driving long-term, sustainable economic development.”
Following the presentation of the index, leaders of a number of prominent arts and cultural institutions in Saratoga County participated in a panel discussion. They included Elizabeth Sobol, president of Saratoga Performing Arts Center; Teddy Foster, campaign director for Universal Preservation Hall; Maureen Sager, project director for the Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy; and Joel Reed, executive director of the Saratoga Arts Council.
The index results portray a robust arts and cultural sector in Saratoga County, including:
• Expenditures on goods and services (by institutions): $27.2 million.
• Expenditures on goods and services (by audiences): $22.2 million.
• Revenue to organizations (including all sources): $26.3 million.
• Local government revenue generated: $2.1 million.
• State government revenue generated: $2.5 million.
• Total salaries paid to direct employees: $7.1 million.
• Total household income of direct employees: $32.6 million.
The Saratoga County Cultural Index also included the results of a Pulse Survey that showed strong optimism for the future of arts and culture in Saratoga County. Of nearly 30 arts and cultural leaders that responded, 88 percent described themselves as either very optimistic or optimistic about the future.
In addition, 96 percent strongly agreed or agreed with building community partnerships to support economic development, and 85 percent strongly agreed or agreed with encouraging entrepreneurship by offering incentives for those in creative industries to relocate to the area.
Meanwhile, 96 percent strongly agreed or agreed that there are arts, cultural, historical and creative places and activities in Saratoga County that are still not widely known.
“Saratoga County is fortunate to offer outstanding arts and cultural programs and venues that serve our residents and bring visitors into our community,” said Kevin Hedley, chairman of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. “The impact they generate is critical not only to our quality of life, but also to our economic well being.”