The Arts Mean Business

The Arts Mean Business

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Op-Ed Article By Jerry Kern, Councilperson, City of Oceanside

Most people don’t think of me as an “artsy” type of guy, despite my wife’s best efforts. However, I do appreciate and understand the arts from an economic perspective. From revitalizing neighborhoods to attracting tourists, the creative arts have a long-standing history in economic development. They can play a significant role in attracting and keeping an intellectually creative and talented workforce. Communities that actively pursue and integrate the arts into their cities are investing in an industry and a creative process that supports jobs, generates revenue, and is a cornerstone of tourism. The arts mean business!      

Non-profit cultural and art organizations drive a growth industry that supports 5.7 million full-time jobs in the United States and generates nearly $30 billion in annual tax revenues. A $166 billion dollar industry, arts and cultural organizations are businesses in their own right. By leveraging significant event-related spending, patrons pump vital revenue into restaurants, hotels, and retail stores, creating a dynamic economic engine in local economies.                    

From an economic standpoint art has at least five measurable effects. First are direct effects which include all expenditures from employment provided by arts establishments or events. Next are the indirect effects from businesses that supply the artist or events with goods and services. Third are the induced effects of economic activity generated when employees and suppliers re-spend their wages in local communities.  Fourth, increased business activity is created when Oceanside citizens and visitors choose Oceanside activities over those in surrounding cities. Finally, traditional businesses that incorporate the arts into their company’s environs and into their customer offerings gain a significant competitive edge with employees and customers alike.

As Oceanside moves forward with its economic plans we must find ways to not only incorporate art into the city’s landscape, and building designs to create enjoyable and vibrant public spaces, but also encourage the arts throughout our community. The result of weaving the arts into our community will be an improved urban quality of life, an expanded business and tax revenue base, constructing a unique sense of identity, generating a source of pride for our citizens, and establishing Oceanside as a visitor destination, from which we all benefit.                          

Regions around the world are competing to attract new businesses as well as the brightest young professionals, the intellectual backbone of the new economy. International studies show that the winners will be those communities that offer an abundance of art and cultural opportunities which make a community more attractive to workers as well as to companies looking to relocate or expand operations. The availability of a skilled workforce is a critical constraint to growth, and a creative workforce is essential to the health and growth of local economies. As the arts flourish, so will creativity and innovation, the two ingredients that are the underlining drivers of the new global economy.   

As stated before my interest do not lean toward the arts , but I am passionate about the long term economic viability and vitality of Oceanside.  The Arts is potentially a tremendous vehicle to achieve those goals.   Oceanside needs business and jobs and Art means business.