Elkins art impact study reveals $6.2M industry

ELKINS (AP) — A new study shows nonprofit arts and culture are big contributors to the Elkins-area economy.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity study was released this week at a community meeting at the Randolph County Community Arts Center.

The 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.

The Inter-Mountain reports that the $6.2 million arts industry supports nearly 150 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $768,000 in local and state government revenue.

Local arts officials say 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,” said longtime local educator and musician Bob Dunkerly, who presented the results along with Robbie Morris, the executive director of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce. “We’re all in this together.”

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.

Those organizations were: 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 shows 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.

During the meeting releasing the study’s results, a steering committee was formed to work toward using the study to advance local economic development.

“This data shows there is a direct correlation between the arts community and the business community,” Morris said. “And our duty now is to try to mesh this.”

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