Arts & Culture Help Boost Local Economy

The Suncoast is known as Florida's Cultural Coast for offering some unique, world-class arts and cultural experiences in a relatively small area. Now an extensive national study is revealing just how much of an economic impact these organizations are having on the Suncoast.

Sarasota County’s arts and cultural leaders have long insisted that investing in the arts is one of the best ways to keep the area’s post-recession economy booming. Now they have fresh numbers to back up the argument. Sarasota and Manatee counties together are pumping almost $350 million into the local economy every single year. Not only that, but the arts and culture scene is creating thousands of full time jobs and drawing millions of visitors to the area.

Beaches aside, when you think of Sarasota County the Van Wezel, Ringling Museum, Asolo Theatre and the Florida Studio Theatre may come to mind. They're all beacons of Sarasota's arts and culture scene. Together, according to a study done by the Americans for the Arts, these organizations are creating a $295 million economic boost for the community. That's a 60 percent increase from 2010.

Jim Shirley, Executive Director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, which sponsored Sarasota’s participation — said: “The thing that impresses me most is that, while during the recession many of our organizations had to make cuts and tighten their belts, they never lost the quality of the product and they’ve come back even stronger than before — which says to me that as the economy is coming back, the arts are not only remaining strong, they’re kind of leading the way.”

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