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Cuyahoga County's Public Arts Funding Benefits Region: Data Shows Impact of Public Funding on Local Arts & Culture Sector

Photo Credit: Bob Perkowski

Cleveland (March 31, 2011) - When county residents voted to create a dedicated tax on cigarettes to fund local arts and culture focused nonprofit organizations, they did so based on promises that it would expand county-wide arts education, support quality of life, and invest in the economic development of the region.

Four years later, with an investment of nearly $65 million in more than 100 nonprofit organizations, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the administrative body for that tax, is the largest public funder of arts and culture in Ohio, and among the top five in the nation.

“Not enough people know about this incredible resource that we have here in our county,” said CAC board chair Steven Minter. “While all around us cities and counties are cutting funding for arts and culture, this community had the foresight to create a dedicated funding stream that continues to support the institutions and programs that our residents know and love.”

Data gathered through the Ohio Cultural Data Project demonstrate that despite the economic challenges of the past several years, CAC funded organizations have expanded their offerings of cultural activities by 25 percent since the time this funding became available, to almost 24,000 events and classes each year. Attendance at both free and paid events is also up by 7 percent, to more than 7.7 million annual visits in this county of 1.28 million residents.

Arts and culture programming provided for school children has increased for both on- and off-campus programming by CAC-funded organizations. School-day visits have increased by more than 140,000 visits, to an annual total of more than 1 million. After school and weekend classes and workshops have increased by 103 percent, and tuition for paid classes has dropped by 8 percent.

As they educate, inspire and inform, Cuyahoga County’s arts and culture nonprofits also play an important role in our region’s economy. CAC-funded organizations are responsible for more than $280 million in the local economic activity, and employ more than 5,000 staff and contractors; more than important regional employers like Sherwin-Williams, American Greetings or Parker Hannifen.

“We have long been saying that the arts and culture aren’t just extras,” said CAC Executive Director Karen Gahl-Mills. “It’s extremely gratifying to have the data now to back up that statement. We’re not just paying for things that are nice to have; we’re investing in the infrastructure of this county and helping to make it the world-class region that we all know it can be.”

EDITORS NOTE: The data on which these statistics are based can be accessed at the link below.

Impact of CAC's Public Investment in Arts & Culture: 2007-09

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CAC Staff