Editorial: Studio tours have far-reaching benefits
It is no wonder people clamor to the studios nestled in our small mountain communities twice a year during the Toe River Arts studio tours. People can enjoy the natural beauty of our area while collecting those one-of-a-kind pieces of art to add to their personal collections or give away as gifts.
But the studio tours are the most important to the artists. Not only do the tours generate revenue, they often create lifetime customers who will help these independent business owners survive and thrive doing what they love to do.
The arts are important to Mitchell County, the state of North Carolina and our country as a whole. The value of arts and cultural production in America is more than $760 billion annually, amounting to 4.2 percent of the gross domestic product. The arts contribute more to the national economy than do the construction, mining, utilities, insurance and accommodation, and food services industries, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.
Between 1998 and 2015, the arts and culture sector’s contribution to GDP grew by 40 percent and the United States had a $20 billion trade surplus in arts and cultural commodities in 2015. America exports more than $60 billion and imports more than $42 billion worth of arts and culture annually, on average.
Independent artists, performing arts companies and performing arts presenters add a combined total of $50 billion to the U.S. economy.
America’s nonprofit arts industry generates $166.3 billion in economic activity every year, resulting in $227.5 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.
Spending by arts audiences on goods and services in addition to admission tickets – such as food, lodging and gifts – annually generates more than $102.5 billion in revenue.
Artists are also entrepreneurial and highly educated. They are 3.5 times more likely than the total U.S. workforce to be self-employed and have higher levels of education when compared to the U.S. workforce as a whole.
The “cultural travelers” that participate in the studio tours spend on average 60 percent more than other types of travelers, about $1,300 per trip compared to $800 per trip. Generally, they also take more trips per year than non-cultural travelers.
The studio tours are crucial to not only our artists but also our restaurants and other businesses. We should all welcome these visitors to our county.