Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Arts contributed $1.76 billion to metro Denver in 2011

Just in time for Denver Arts Week, which kicks off on November 2, the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts is unveiling the results of its most recent study, which shows that metro Denver arts and culture generated $1.76 billion in total economic activity in 2011 -- a year that saw major new facilities join the cultural scene.

The study's findings, based on data from more than 300 organizations in the seven-county area that receive money from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, will be revealed this morning at a sold-out CBCA breakfast. And they are a real treat in this tricky economy.

Among the highlights: The total arts and culture economic activity, a combination of operating expenses, audience spending and capital expenditure, totaled $1.76 billion in 2011, an 18.4 percent increase over 2009. And "new money" -- dollars that ordinarily would not be spent in the metro area -- reached $527 million in 2011, a 36 percent increase over the previous year and by far the largest impact ever recorded in a CBCA study, according to CBCA head Deborah Jordy.

The CBCA study didn't stop at 2011 numbers. It also looked at the past decade, and documented the enormous economic and social impact of the arts between 2001 and 2011. For example: More than 142 million people attended cultural events over that decade, and more than a dozen new arts facilities opened during the period, representing a $200 million investment.

And over that decade, $424 million was collected by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District -- all from a one-tenth of 1 percent sales and use tax originally approved by voters in 1988 -- and distributed to non-profit organizations in the metro Denver area.

Look for more details on our Show and Tell blog later today.

Ravi Zupa is among the many artists whose work will be on display this weekend. Learn more in "Countdown to Denver Arts Week: Ravi Zupa at Black Book Gallery."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun

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