EDAWN luncheon stresses importance of arts and culture | nnbusinessview.com

EDAWN luncheon stresses importance of arts and culture

Jay H. Dick

Arts and culture are considered necessity for any community but at the same time are often taken for granted, according to Jay H. Dick, senior director of state and local government affairs at Americans for the Arts.

Arts and culture also can be huge drivers of a community's economic engine, he said. The arts are important not only in attracting a talented workforce, but also attracting tourism dollars to the area.

Dick was keynote speaker at the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada's Arts & Business luncheon.

Data collected by Americans for the Arts and compiled every five years, indicates that in Reno-Sparks there was an economic impact of $89 million from nonprofit arts and culture-related endeavors. That is about the middle of the pack in comparison to communities of similar sizes around the United States. By comparison, Little Rock, Ark., had an economic impact of about $27 million and Orlando, Fla. had an impact of around $198 million.

While Dick lauded the Reno-Sparks community for already investing in arts and culture, he said more can be done, especially since highly skilled millennials, who are filling the now plentiful job market, clamor for activities outside of work.

"If you bring in a lot of highly-skilled people they're going to want to do stuff. If you bring them in and want to keep them here, there better be stuff for them to do after 5 o'clock at night," Dick told the audience.

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Dick shared a story from several years ago when Boeing was looking to relocate its headquarters from Seattle and the finalists came down to Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth. While the two markets seemed on equal footing, Boeing ultimately decided on Chicago primarily due to its superior arts and culture scene for its employees.

In addition, arts and culture events such as Burning Man and Artown are important to the area's tourism industry. Dick said tourists are now more than ever looking for memories when visiting a city or region. In further data by Americans for the Arts, 76 percent of visitors to Reno-Sparks in 2015, said that a particular special event was the primary reason for their visit.

"People don't come to stay in motels, but come to find that authentic experience in cities such as Reno," Dick said.

Dick emphasized that to further develop the subsector, businesses and community leaders need to be engaged.

One project already underway that was highlighted at the luncheon is the Wolf Project, conceived by the University of Nevada, Reno to connect with the rest of the city. They have life-sized wolf sculptures displayed in front of various businesses around town. The project was spearheaded by Linda Clift working with a committee of UNR graduates and area advocates for the arts.

The luncheon also honored other local individuals and companies who have contributed to the arts and culture scene.