Sponsored by Lane Powell

Did the recession kill the arts?

| Print |  Email
Articles - March 2012
Friday, March 02, 2012

BY BRANDON SAWYER

Click on any graph to view larger.
0312_Data_Theater
0312_Data_Dance
0312_Data_FilmSoundVideo
0312_Data_IndependentCreatives
0312_Data_PerfomingArts
0312_Data_Music
0312_Data_Promoters
0312_Data_Museums
0312_Data_ArtsAppreciation_LARGE
Out of the ashes of the Great Recession of 2007-2009, Oregon’s arts-related economy seems to have fared better than the private sector as a whole. Arts employment has by no means regained its 2008 peak, but many creative sectors are thriving.

The arts are a nebulous universe with many self-employed, part-time and seasonal workers. To get a handle on it, Nick Beleiciks, state employment economist at the Oregon Employment Department, gathered data for those covered by unemployment insurance, including the performing arts (theater, dance and musical groups), independent writers and performers, promoters, museums and motion pictures (production, distribution and theaters).

These jobs grew 3.6% in 2008, the first full year of the recession, but dropped 9.2% in 2009. But in 2010, when total employment continued to slide, arts jobs grew 2% and have kept rising. In the first six months of 2011, they increased 1.5% over the same period in 2010.

“Between 2007 and 2010 the industry lost 4% employment,” says Beleiciks. “That compares to the overall loss of 9.5% of private jobs. In terms of employment the arts-related industry did do a little better than overall industry.”

That’s good news for the growing community of artists moving to Oregon. The National Endowment for the Arts reports that in 1990 artists represented just 1.4% of Oregon’s labor force, the same as the U.S. overall. In 2000, that grew to 1.6% and by 2005-2009 artists represented 1.7% of the state’s workforce — 20% greater than nationwide. Oregon tied with Vermont for third place, behind only New York and California.

Oregon’s enthusiasm for local talent, along with cultural tourism from outside the state, has helped boost arts employment and revenue and preserve the arts through the economic downturn.

“Arts organizations in Oregon overall rely more heavily on earned income than arts organizations in other places,” says Christine D’Arcy, executive director of the Oregon Arts Commission and Oregon Cultural Trust. Greater reliance on earned income has proven a boon in times when charitable contributions and grants have dropped.

The Oregon Arts Commission produces a Creative Vitality Index each year, 60% of which is based on “arts participation” and the remaining 40% on arts-related employment. In 2010, the index rose 0.03 to 1.02 for Oregon, compared to the national baseline of 1.0. Multnomah and Washington counties’ index was much higher at 1.58.

Not only do Oregonians fervently patronize the arts, says D’Arcy, but Oregon draws cultural tourists, especially to Portland. “When you combine the quality of the arts and cultural programming with a very livable city, craft beer and wine, and a city that’s easy to get around in, people want to come here and experience culture.”

That vibe has helped Portland draw film and TV productions. Vince Porter, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Film and Television, has managed state incentives to draw and keep projects that pack a big economic impact. He’s helped land three TV shows in Portland. “With Leverage, Portlandia and Grimm,” he says, “all of them have been in their own world reasonably successful.”

He estimates that out-of-state film and video production spent more than $110 million in Oregon last year. “When your previous record was $62 million, it’s a pretty big increase, so of course we’re going to try to keep it at that level but… we have to compete with so many other places.”

Outside of film, Porter sees promise in the state’s animation studios, such as Laika in Hillsboro and Bent Image Lab in Portland.

“I don’t know if there’s another city in the country that has the amount of stop-motion animation talent as the Portland metro area. Combining that with some of the tech talent and design talent that are here, there’s some new cool things happening.”

Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival is another shining star in the arts universe with roughly 600 employees. In 2010, the nonprofit’s 75th season, it had an economic impact of $179.6 million, a 3% increase over 2009. Program revenue grew 8% to $19.3 million as attendance peaked to 414,783. Even operating contributed income grew 6% to $6.9 milion.

“Seventy-five to 78% of our income is earned income so we depend on that,” says Amy Richard, media and communications manager.

The Eugene Symphony also has enjoyed unflagging community support. About 50% of its income is from tickets, according to Maylian Pak, interim executive director. Most orchestras get about 40% of income from tickets, she says.

Support has been so solid that the symphony has balanced its budget for 19 consecutive seasons.

“I believe the individuals who support the arts are so passionate about what we do that they make it a priority,” Pak says.

Individuals account for about 80% of most arts organization’s contributed income, business contributions are usually less than 10%, and the rest comes from foundations and government, according to Virginia Willard, the recently retired executive director for Business for Culture and the Arts in Portland.

These funding sources have less to contribute than before the recession, and arts organizations in Oregon and nationwide are struggling despite strong patronage.

Willard stresses the value of the arts as part of a strong economy. “It is an industry that creates jobs,” she says. “They are not jobs that can be exported.”

Brandon Sawyer is research editor for Oregon Business. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

 

More Articles

Efficiency Boost

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

How conservation stimulates the local economy.


Read more...

Sun set

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

The right sunglasses can protect your eyes and look cool at the same time. This being the 21st century, select shades are socially conscious, too. Portland brand Shwood uses wood and other natural materials and manufactures locally. Founded by Ann Sacks, the brand Fetch dedicates a portion of its profits to animal welfare. But whether you choose classic tortiseshell or aviator chic, please, shed the sunglasses when you walk in the door — and, of course, at night. 


Read more...

Up in the Air

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY ANNIE ELLISON

Portland tech veteran Ben Berry is leaving his post as Portland’s chief technology officer for a full-time role producing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) aimed at first responders and the military. Berry’s AirShip Technologies Group is poised to be on the ground floor of an industry that will supply drones to as many as 100,000 police, fire and emergency agencies nationwide. He reveals the plan for takeoff.


Read more...

Oregon businesses face destruction from future earthquake

The Latest
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
htctthumb1BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

An earthquake would completely destroy many Oregon businesses, highlighting the urgent need for the private and public sectors to collaborate on shoring up disaster preparedness, said panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast summit today.


Read more...

The Backstory: Portland Youth Builders

The Latest
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
blog002 1BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As part of our green workplaces story, Oregon Business checked out a community service project undertaken by Portland Youth Builders, a nonprofit alternative high school. In partnership with Whole Foods, PYB built garden boxes for a Home Forward  housing site. Home Forward is a government agency that provides housing for low income residents and people with disabilities.


Read more...

Marijuana law ushers in new business age

The Latest
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
062315panelthumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Oregon’s new marijuana law is expected to lead to a bevy of new business opportunities for the state. And not just for growers. Law firms, HR consultants, energy efficiency companies and many others are expected to benefit from the decriminalization of pot, according to panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast meeting on Tuesday.


Read more...

Fixing Oregon’s broken roads

The Latest
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
RUCCostComparison rev4-30BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The technology at the center of Oregon’s road usage fee reform.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS