Arts Give Westchester Economic Windfall

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Janet Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester, speaks Friday in White Plains on the economic impact of the arts in Westchester County. Photo Credit: ArtsWestchester

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Art, beauty, entertainment and cultural development are all benefits of the thriving arts community in Westchester County, and according to a newly released study, the arts generated $156.4 million in local economic activity in 2010.

“We believe the arts are not only important to the people who live here and the businesses located here, but they also have a significant impact on the economy,” said Janet Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester, which commissioned the study.

The study found that in 2010, the arts supported 4,800 jobs, including those directly involved in the arts community, as well as restaurant and hospitality jobs that are stimulated by those attending cultural events. In addition to benefiting the economy, the arts community returned $23.17 million to local and state governments through sales taxes and fees.

The results of the study, conducted by Americans for the Arts, were announced Friday at a press conference in White Plains and in a press release Monday. ArtsWestchester, an organization that provides information, support and marketing for the Westchester arts community, has commissioned the economic study every five years since 1995, and in that time, the economic impact of the arts has grown 189 percent. While locals account for the bulk of arts audiences, at 68.4 percent, nonresidents are drawn to the area as well.

“It says something about the appeal of what we have here that almost one-third of the people came from somewhere else to see attractions in Westchester,” Langsam said. “If you look at the amount of money spent by tourists, it’s twice as much as spent by the people who live here.”

The economic impact is calculated by totaling the amount of money spent by cultural organizations and the amount of money spent by residents and tourists to pay for arts events, as well money spent in connection with the events, such as on restaurant purchases, hotel stays and souvenir shopping.

“That money goes into the economy here in Westchester and it ripples throughout the economy,” Langsam said.

Langsam said Westchester County has become an alternative to New York City for cultural attractions, because people save money they would have to spend on train tickets or parking in New York City.

“This report gives new credence to the importance of the arts as a significant economic driver, one that creates and supports a growing roster of jobs across many fields,” Langsam said in a press release.

For more information about the study, as well as information about the arts in Westchester, visit ArtsWestchester’s website.

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