Why the arts matter

The public art in Dublin has reached a scale where it attracts its own tourists who want to look at some of the 70 sculptural elements. And the Riverboxes™ challenge and cellphone tour have generated interest from a range of ages, including younger generations.

Whether or not you agree with public art, you can’t argue that it has given Dublin distinction and provided economic benefits.

A look at the impact

When I put together this month’s Uniquely Columbus on Dublin’s public art, it got me curious about the impact of art in the greater Columbus area. I’ve always heard that the quality of living — which is directly related to arts and culture — is one of the strengths of Columbus.

I found a 2010 Arts & Economic Prosperity IV survey from Americans for the Arts that documented the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture in 182 communities and regions.

Here’s what I found, based on the 21 percent of greater Columbus arts area organizations who submitted information:

  • Arts and culture organizations: $131 million in industry expenditures.
  • Arts and culture audiences: $95 million in industry expenditures.
  • Franklin County resident attendees spent $50 million on event-related spending, excluding the cost of admission, while other attendees spent nearly $45 million. This is for things like restaurants, parking garages, hotels, retail stores, etc.
  • Excluding the cost of admission, the average Franklin Country attendee spent $12.65, compared to $23.83 by out-of-towners.

According to the Greater Columbus Arts Council, in Franklin County 33 percent of residents feel the arts play a major role in their lives. Nearly 75 percent would like to attend live performances more often. At the same time, 95 percent of Columbus residents believe the arts greatly enhance the city’s quality of life.

Business, art and technology come together

The arts mean business for Columbus, and public art certainly has its place in that. The latest arts marketing campaign: Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art certainly helps demonstrate that.

And one of the coolest pieces to that campaign was a public arts project of huge scale that also brought technology into play.

More than 600 people made titles at the Columbus Arts Festival, and some of those were installed in groups of five on street signs. The entire installation spelled out the word “ART” when pinned on a Google Map of Columbus.

Arts and culture continue to be important community drivers in the Central Ohio region, and that’s certainly something that Dublin realized years ago.