The importance of the arts in Lima


LIMA – The arts in Lima are alive and well. Although the COVID 19 “stay at home” orders have had a negative impact on the arts as well as other businesses, the arts remain a vital segment of the economy. The arts represent a larger segment of the national economy than most people realize. The United States Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the nation’s arts are an $878 billion industry that supports 5.1 million jobs. This represents 4.2% of the national economy (3.1% in Ohio) – a larger share of gross domestic product than sectors such as agriculture, transportation and tourism.

In 2020, state governments invested $494 million in nonprofit arts organizations such as festivals, public art programs, museums, and arts centers. These organizations provide both cultural and economic benefits to their community – employing people locally, purchasing goods and services from nearby businesses, and acting as a major driver of tourism.

Michael Bouson, who is currently working on the re-opening of the Ohio Theatre, said, “It’s no secret that all of the cottage industries that are springing up around arts centers benefit the arts. In my view, this is a cooperative effort. For example, Los Angeles has more off-broadway size theaters than New York. All competing for the same audience. But all the other businesses in the area get their $2 worth from all those people who come to see this piece. All the bars, all the restaurants offer exclusive cocktails on the theme of the proposed performance. Bring your program and get $5 off your meal. It’s literally everyone jumping on the bandwagon and not just waiting for that passive income to be cultivated. I think arts organizations need to cooperate because we’re supposed to be creative thinkers.

The arts are a way for the economy to grow. Developers and business leaders report that arts and entertainment are key to attracting and retaining workers, providing the talent businesses need to thrive. Bouson said, “If I’m looking for a place to set up a factory, what are my thirty or forty senior executives going to do at night? Where are they going to live? What kind of community will they have and what clubs can they join? They will go online and look at downtown Lima and its website. They are going to see what attractions there are, how many artistic things. Then they’re going to start projecting the type of people that are here. So they’re not even going to consider a city that doesn’t have a thriving arts community. I mean, it’s been proven over and over again. New York City, when it was literally bankrupt, where did they pump the first sums of money? On Broadway.

Residents of these arts-rich communities earn higher incomes than residents of areas lacking performing arts institutions. The arts inspire people to get out of their homes and spend money in the community. Every visit to an arts event generates dollars beyond the cost of the ticket in dining, retail, parking and accommodation expenses. This provides vital income to local merchants, energizes the town center and puts people to work.

Abe Ambroza, CEO of the Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center, shared his experience during a concert at the Civic Center. “We had Cheap Trick a few years ago. I walked into the parking lot because there were a bunch of faces I didn’t recognize. We found license plates from over twenty different states. We went back and tracked the ticket purchases and everything and found about eighteen different states. To have so many states represented, I think that’s a good thing. That tourist dollar that we bring in, I think that’s really had an impact.

According to Roberta Brandes Gratz, author of “Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown”, “The arts projects with the best chance of success in revitalizing underutilized downtowns are those that target the local community as well as Projects that only target the needs of tourists or commuters will struggle to spread their impact to the local economy or even to businesses around the corner or around the corner.

Windle said: “This community has attracted some really high level people and it has been supported. So the fact that there are 30,000 of us and we have all these arts halls, and we’re bringing in even more, meets that basic need. It’s desired.

FILE – The Ohio Theater main stage. A vibrant arts community can be a boon to a city’s overall economy, and recent developments at the Ohio Theater and elsewhere bring new hope for revitalizing Lima.

Contact Dean Brown at 567-242-0409


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