Cultural value

Volunteers fuel nonprofit arts organizations.

By Margaret S. “Tog” Newman

[06.07.04] — Cultural organizations give a $723 million boost to the North Carolina economy.

So reports “Just the Ticket,” a new study of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts industry in North Carolina conducted by Appalachian State University.

The nearly 7,000 full-time jobs in the nonprofit arts sector in North Carolina generate an estimated $32 million in state and federal taxes.

The study also details the importance of volunteers.

Over a four-year period, North Carolina nonprofit cultural organizations trimmed operating expenses and noted a rise in attendance and participation.

This was made possible in large part with the help of volunteers.

Anyone who has ever been guided to a seat in a theater, toured a museum with a docent or attended an exhibition has come in contact with these unpaid, yet vital workers.
More than one million North Carolinians — nearly one of every eight citizens — are active arts supporters, members or volunteers.

I have been involved with nonprofit arts for many years, and I still marvel at the commitment and passion that volunteers bring.

In an age when people are stretched in almost every way, it is remarkable that cultural volunteerism is up 13 percent in the last year.

This trend helps offset the fall in per-capita spending on the arts in North Carolina from 63 cents to 60 cents.

North Carolina cultural volunteers donate between one day and two weeks annually.

Valued by Washington clearinghouse Independent Sector at $16.04 per hour, the financial support of this work is an impressive $131,034,421.

Viewed another way, cultural volunteers add the impact of 4,237 additional full-time employees to the state’s 2,468 nonprofit arts organizations.
Each arts dollar invested by the N.C. Arts Council is matched by $24 other dollars in local communities.

Volunteers further broaden the already impressive reach of our arts nonprofits as they deliver quality programs to all ages.

So, the next time you attend an arts event, thank those who are donating their time.

Better yet, become a volunteer yourself.

Margaret S. “Tog” Newman, of Winston-Salem, is board chair of the North Carolina Arts Council.

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