Arts and culture organizations in Central Iowa grew over the past few years, even as their counterparts in other areas of the country staggered in the recession. 

A new study released today by Bravo Greater Des Moines focused on 53 arts, culture and heritage organizations that receive Bravo funding and showed that cumulatively those groups contribute $114.4 million in annual economic output. Also:

  • Arts, culture and heritage organizations employ 2,144 Iowans each year.
  • $6.64 million in local, state and regional taxes and charges are generated by these organizations.  

"Arts and culture act as an economic driver for our regional economy in terms of visitors, locals and those relocating here," Greg Edwards, president and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a release. "More and more visitors are realizing Greater Des Moines has an artful vibe, and because of that, new visitor dollars are coming into our city. ... Put simply, our vibrant arts and culture scene makes our city stronger."

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson, who conducted the study as well as similar ones in 2004 and 2008, told The Des Moines Register that arts and culture organizations stumbled a bit during the recession, but they quickly recovered.

"The big takeaway is that there has been consistent growth in the value of the arts and the cultural activities to the mid-Iowa region," said Swenson.

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