Art programs in Silicon Valley are pumping millions into the economy

Technology may be king in Silicon Valley, but the economic impact of arts and culture on the region should not be overlooked, bringing millions of dollars into Santa Clara County.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study showed that the nonprofit arts and culture industry in Santa Clara County generated $384.5 million in economic activity in 2022, including $292 million in San Jose. Countywide, the arts supported 5,916 jobs, provided $243.2 million in personal income to residents and generated $63.9 million in government tax revenue. The research was done by Americans for the Arts in partnership with the San Jose Office of Economic Development and Cultural Affairs and SVCREATES.

Santa Clara County Executive Susan Ellenberg said the arts help the well-being of residents and the prosperity of the county and impact future generations.

“Art not only fills our souls, it strengthens our economy,” she said. “Art is serious business.”

Randy Cohen, vice president of research for Americans for the Arts, said the arts improve communities socially and economically. Nationally, 86 percent of people surveyed in the survey said the arts improve quality of life and create more livable communities, he said.

“Art and culture beautify our cities. It brings joy to the inhabitants. It creates the places we want to live and work,” he told the San José Spotlight. “(It) helps drive tourism and they are a jobs industry. Arts organizations spend money in the community. They buy goods and services from other businesses.

Randy Cohen, vice president of research for Americans for the Arts, said the arts improve communities socially, culturally and economically. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

Cohen said few businesses generate related costs like the arts, including hospitality costs. He said an additional $218.2 million comes to the county through event-related spending from individuals attending nonprofit arts and cultural events.

“You can see the pull that the arts have,” he told the San José Spotlight, “and those people are spending money at local businesses. If you are a business owner, you must love the dynamic arts and culture industry. If you’re a community leader who cares about more livable communities and strengthening your economy, you can feel good about investing in arts and culture.”

In San Jose, the arts provided $173.4 million in personal income to residents and $46.4 million in tax revenue, including $6 million in local taxes, the study said. Arts and entertainment organizations created 4,738 jobs in San Jose. Last year, event-related audience spending brought in $192 million to the city.

Arts and culture in San Jose contribute to community pride, 86% of respondents said. The majority, 85%, said they would feel a sense of loss if the activity or venue was no longer available.

San Jose Cultural Affairs Director Kerry Adams Hapner said the arts foster social cohesion and community development.

“The arts bring people together, whether … a museum or an outdoor festival. There is a huge benefit to arts education for youth as well as lifelong learning,” she told the San José Spotlight. “They also help develop cross-cultural understanding, which is extremely important in a diverse community like San Jose.”

The nonprofit arts and culture industry, including the San Jose Performing Arts Center, generates $292 million annually for the San Jose economy. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

Adams Happner said that because many people still work from home or have hybrid work schedules, arts events bring vibrancy to the downtown, bringing it to life at night and on weekends. There is a huge ripple effect from arts activities in terms of how they support the larger economy, she said, and investing in the arts attracts talent and industry and generates jobs.

“It’s a critical part of our creative economy and our greater economic prosperity,” she said. “It’s what draws people to a place and makes it unique. People want to work and live in a city that is interesting and has a great cultural life.”

Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected].

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