Arts and cultural activities in the St. Croix Valley resulted in a $169.2 million economic impact.
Clockwise from top left: SCVF Director of Community Impact Angie Pilgrim presents findings from the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 Study; a full auditorium listens; ArtReach St. Croix Executive Director Heather Rutledge hugs an attendee; attendees smile directly at the camera; attendees discuss findings at The Phipps Center for the Arts; attendees share reactions and ideas
Last year, we followed the leadership of our partners at ArtReach St. Croix as they collected data about the economic and social impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in our region. In the St. Croix Valley, the sector generated an astounding $169.2 million in economic activity during 2022, including spending by arts and culture organizations and event-related expenditures by their audiences. That economic activity supported 2,067 jobs, provided $73.4 million in personal income to residents, and generated $24.3 million in tax revenue to local, state and federal governments.
The data collected in the St. Croix Valley was part of a broader national study called the Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), led by Americans for the Arts. Local data was collected in Chisago and Washington counties in Minnesota, and Burnett, Polk, St. Croix and Pierce Counties in Wisconsin. An estimated 511,187 residents live in those counties. Locally, 94 nonprofits participated in the study.
Another key finding suggested that, on average, those who attended arts and culture events spent $31.15 per person per event beyond the cost of admission. Businesses like restaurants, breweries and distilleries, transit, local retail and lodging all benefited from that additional spending.
"The arts are good for tourism!" said Wisconsin Arts Board Executive Director George Tzougros, who presented national findings at an event held January 16 at The Phipps Center for the Arts, co-hosted by St. Croix Valley Foundation and ArtReach St.Croix. Tzougros encouraged attendees to broadly share the economic benefits of the arts in their circles.
The AEP6 study also found significant impacts of the arts and cultural sector beyond measurable, economic benefits.
"The arts do so much for our region," said St. Croix Valley Foundation Director of Community Impact Angie Pilgrim. "We know that the arts can build the idea of place and pride in our communities, help people feel a sense of belonging, and make our communities to feel like vibrant, healthy places."
Of those surveyed, 83.5% felt that the activity or venue where they were surveyed inspired a sense of pride in their neighborhood or community; 77.5% agreed that they would feel a great sense of loss if the activity or venue were no longer available; and 71.6% agreed that the venue or facility where they were surveyed is an important pillar of their community.
"While lots of people believe arts and culture are beneficial, it's important to quantify the impact so people can really wrap their minds around this industry," said Heather Rutledge, executive director of ArtReach St Croix. "These nonprofits are businesses that, at their core, make the St. Croix Valley a place where people want to visit and a place to call home."
Partnerships like the AEP6 study give us an opportunity to form partnerships, provide servant leadership and bring people together. We are grateful to funding from the Hugh J. Andersen Foundation and Wisconsin Arts Board for making studies like this one possible.
ArtReach St. Croix has compiled additional information about the St. Croix Valley AEP6 Study, including a Summary of Findings and the extended results featuring local and national data.