Nonprofit arts and culture are a $6.2 million industry in the Elkins area-one that supports 146 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $768,000 in local and state government revenue, according to a new study.
The local results of the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study were unveiled Tuesday at a community meeting at the Randolph County Community Arts Center.
Longtime local educator and musician Bob Dunkerly presented the results with the help of a slideshow and comments from Robbie Morris, the executive director of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce.
Dunkerly said the study could have a tremendous impact on local tourism and also bringing new businesses to the area.
"We want to be a plank in the platform of economic development," Dunkerly said of the Elkins arts scene. "We're all in this together."
The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study was conducted by Americans for the Arts to document the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in 182 communities and regions, representing all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Parkersburg was the only other West Virginia city included in the study.
Detailed financial and event attendance information that helped in the creation of the study was provided by six nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Elkins: the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College; the Mountain State Forest Festival; the Old Brick Playhouse Company; the Randolph County Community Arts Council/Center; the Riverside School Association; and Youth Empowered Solutions.
The study results show that $1.6 million is spent by nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Elkins, with an additional $4.6 million in event-related spent by their audiences.
Those organizations generate $3.3 million in household income to local residents, according to the study.
During 2010, a total of 527 volunteers donated a total of 41,600 hours to the six participating Elkins nonprofit arts and culture organizations, a donation of time the study estimates to be worth $888,576.
The six organizations reported an average of 78.9 volunteers who volunteered an average of 87.8 hours, for a total of 6,933 hours per organization.
The study showed that the six organizations reported the aggregate attendance to their events was 153,944 during 2010. Those attendees spent an average of $29.90 per person, per event.
Non-resident attendees spent an average of 507 percent more per person than local attendees: $61.66 vs. $10.15, according to the study.
"This data shows there is a direct correlation between the arts community and the business community," Morris said at Tuesday's meeting. "And our duty now is to try to mesh this."
A steering committee was formed during the meeting to work toward using the study to advance local economic development.
Lou Karas, executive director of the Appalachian Arts Initiative, first discussed with Robert L. Smith, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, the possibility of including Elkins in the AEP IV project. Then Karas contacted Dunkerley, president and CEO of Helianthus, requesting his firm's support to shepherd the project to fruition.
Dunkerly said Tuesday that local arts mainstay Jane Birdsong did "a marvelous job" assisting him with the project.