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Arts and culture organizations bolster Alachua County economy


Recent research shows nonprofit arts and culture organizations have a large economic impact on Alachua County. These organizations also provide thousands of jobs.

Americans for the Arts released a study showing nonprofit arts and culture organizations generated $85.5 million in total economic activity during 2010 and supported more than 2,000 full time equivalent jobs.

Russell Etling, cultural affairs programs coordinator for the City of Gainesville, says 31 organizations participated in the study. About 825 audience surveys were completed.

“These amenities, really, are one of the foundations that keep our community economically thriving and growing.”

He said he believes the arts are an important part of the community, but the study helps to quantify what that means.

Alachua County is home to the Hippodrome Theater, in addition to the Dance Alive National Ballet and the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra.

Jessica Hurov is the director of marketing for the Hippodrome. She says the amount of money the theatre makes directly affects the local economy.

Hurov said the Hippodrome has 30 full-time employees, about 20 part time and about 15 interns.

“I think that the arts in Alachua County are the equivalent that you would have in one of Florida’s bigger cities like Tampa, Miami, Orlando,” Hurov said. “We are at that level, even though on a map we’re a much smaller city.”

The Hippodrome attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year. Out-of-county travel accounts for 15 percent of total visitors.

These travelers from outside Alachua County have a large impact on the local economy because they are likely to purchase gas and meals, as well as possibly staying at a bed and breakfast or hotel, according to Hurov.

“Not only are we fulfilling the human soul with the work that we do culturally and spiritually,” Etling said. “But we’re also bolstering the economic matrix that makes our community run and grow.”

The bottom line? The arts mean business.

Hannah Schrader contributed to this story. 

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