Arts, culture play big role in economy

Arts opportunities abound in Warren and Trumbull County, but there is still always room to grow.

That’s why we were so thrilled to see world-renowned musician Yo-Yo Ma turn a much deserved spotlight on Warren recently.

During his visit, renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma spoke about the accomplishments he could see in the Warren-Youngstown area and the potential for even greater ones.

In terms of both visual and performing arts, the local options are many.

Consider: We have the Butler Institute of Art in both Youngstown and Howland; the Trumbull Art Gallery offers beautiful exhibits and events, as does the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County and the McDonough Museum of Art; local theater presentations are available at Trumbull New Theatre, Kent State University at Trumbull, Youngstown Playhouse, Youngstown State University, Rust Belt Theater Company, Millennial Theatre Company and others; and we certainly can’t forget the Warren Philharmonic and Youngstown Symphony Orchestras.

And this list is only the beginning!

The amazing Ma has made it his life’s work not only to share the beauty of classical music and the arts, but also to help it to grow and flourish with the hope of helping to create a more well-rounded and inviting community.

No doubt the thousands of people who filed into the Warren Community Amphitheatre on Aug. 13 already know the value of arts and culture. What may not be as widely known, though, is the enormous impact arts and culture have beyond just sheer beauty and entertainment.

A national study released last year by Americans for the Arts — the fifth since the early 1990s — known as Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, or AEP5, provided evidence that the nonprofit arts and culture industry is an economic driver.

According to the report, nonprofit arts generated $166.3 billion in 2015 economic activity nationwide. That includes $63.8 billion in spending by arts organizations and a $102.5 billion in spending by audiences. It supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in revenue to local, state and federal governments.

These findings are not just smoke and mirrors from those in the arts industry.

Now even the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis publishes an annual Arts & Cultural Production Satellite Account, extending beyond the nonprofit sector to include commercial and for-profit arts and education as a $730 billion industry. (That’s 4.2 percent of the nation’s GDP — more than transportation, tourism, agriculture and construction.)

Ma helped drive the point during his visit here, and that helped spur other related events that day, including a visit by representatives of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and Americans for the Arts. They made our city a stop on the Kennedy Center’s 50-stop Arts Across America campaign, celebrating communities committed to using the arts to promote connection, a strong creative economy and increased cultural citizenship.

Also Aug. 13, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership unveiled public art funded with an Ohio Arts Council grant. It is exhibited in Warren’s Quinby Park.

Easily the biggest name in classical music today, Ma spent his entire day touring the area and attending functions aimed at using the arts for revitalization efforts, all before playing a free concert in an outdoor space amid the threat of thunderstorm. Why? Simply to shine a spotlight on the potential of our community — of which, by the way, he thinks there is a lot.

In fact, Ma told Tribune Chronicle entertainment writer Andy Gray how impressed he is with the way local arts organizations, elected officials, faith community members and business leaders all seem to work together on a common goal of revitalizing the area and recognizing the importance of arts and culture to achieve it.

Studies indicate that arts mean good business. The public response to Ma’s appearance proved that to be true.

Now we just need to accept his optimism and follow through.

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