Assessing the arts – United Arts measures impact

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — The United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County is set to measure the economic and social impact of the arts in the county.

United Arts also has raised $170,000 in the corporate portion of its annual fundraising campaign, and has kicked off its residential and workplace drives.

The group has commissioned a study that will be funded with $9,000 from the Wake County Board of Commissioners and $6,000 from the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau and Triangle Business Journal.

The study will track a range of measures of nonprofit arts groups, including employment, revenue, spending, attendance, taxes and projections on the number of times each dollar spent on the arts is later spent again locally.

More than 100 arts groups in the county will be included in the study, as will arts programs of the county’s 11 municipalities and all college and university galleries, theaters and museums.

The study will be conducted by Western States Arts Federation in Denver. It will begin this month and be completed in May.

In its annual fundraising campaign, United Arts aims to raise $890,000 in private funds and $569,000 in public funds, mainly from the N.C. Arts Council, Wake County and Wake’s municipalities.

The arts group will hold workplace campaigns at 55 employers this year, up from 50 last year.

United Arts this year will visit 300 companies for corporate gifts this, up from 205 last year and 135 in 1998. Of those visited, the group expects to receive contributions from 110 companies this year, up from 99 last year and 66 in 1998.

And for the first time this year, members of the boards of directors of arts groups are visiting corporate executives to solicit corporate support.

United Arts also has launched a Web site. Designed by volunteers, the site includes a list of all artists in residence at Wake County public schools, along with a schedule of performances by those artists. Mary Graham, director of marketing and development at United Arts, oversees the Web site.

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