06/25/04 — Arts add green to North Carolina economy

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Arts add green to North Carolina economy

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on June 25, 2004 2:00 PM

Would you like to know the strength of the nonprofit community arts? In North Carolina the economic effect is $723 million.

That's right: Add the dollars professionals working for nonprofit groups are paid, the value of the hours given by volunteers and the economic multiplier, i.e., money spent at restaurants, clothes stores, gasoline stations and more, and you have $723 million.

North Car-olinians who hold full-time jobs in the nonprofit arts sector pay a total of $32 million in taxes, Mary B. Regan said at the Arts Council of Wayne County's annual meeting Thursday at the art center.

The arts have lots of volunteers -- so many that, if you paid them for their time and work, you'd be writing a check for $131 million, she said. Volunteerism in the arts is becoming increasingly popular; the number is up 13 percent from last year.

What they have to offer must be appealing. North Carolina is one of the top 10 states people visit when they want to indulge in cultural activities. And, Ms. Regan said, travelers participating in cultural tourism stay longer and spend more money than typical travelers.

When you look at the total picture -- employees, volunteers, ticket buyers, etc. -- one in eight people in North Carolina is involved in the arts.

Ms. Regan is the executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council, and her presentation reminded people of the importance of nonprofit arts. Much of the information she shared appears in the state arts council's brochure, "Just the Ticket: The Arts Make Money in North Carolina," copies of which were given to people at the meeting.

Ms. Regan was one of a number of guests at the art center Thursday. Others included Martin Lancaster, president of North Carolina Community Colleges; Jack LeSueur, the state arts council's community programs administrator; Sandi Landis, executive director of the Kinston Arts Council; Richard Green, executive director of the Wilson Arts Council; Janie Wilson, state arts council's arts in communities director; and Al King, Goldsboro mayor.

Officers elected

At the meeting, a list of the Arts Council of Wayne County's new officers and directors was presented and then voted on.

Officers for 2004-05 are Richard Hunt, president; Mary Lee Flowers, vice president; Martha Bryan, secretary; Gwyn Wilson, treasurer; and Dr. Ron Taylor, past president.

New board members are Ven Faulk, Geoff Hulse and Bryan Sutton.

Taylor gave a presentation about the history of the Wayne Arts Council, which was incorporated in 1963 and had an office at City Hall.

In 1979, the Arts Council moved its headquarters to Herman Park Center and, last year, moved into its own art center on the corner of Spence Avenue and Ash Street.

The organization continues to advance and has had a productive year, Taylor said:

*The "When Pigs Fly" public art and fund-raising campaign continues. Nineteen pig sculptures are on display across the county. "If you haven't seen these pigs, see if you can find all 19 of them," he said. One was easy for people at the meeting to spot. "Bikini Pig" is placed in the fountain in front of the art center.

*A brainstorming session was held, which led to a number of ideas, including the first Swinefest, a barbecue competition that went so well that it will be an annual event.

*Art classes and exhibits have been held.

*A note-burning took place in the fall to celebrate the Arts Council paying off the loan to buy the art center from Centura Bank and adjoining garden.

*The Three Eagles Rotary Club is working on the art center's garden and plans to restore it to its former glory.

Taylor thanked the people in attendance for their work and said another busy year is on its way. Among the plans: the 25th Annual Juried Fine Arts Exhibition in September and the annual Swinefest and the "When Pigs Fly" gala in October.

Taylor also recognized volunteers who have completed their service on the Arts Council board of directors: Mary Margaret McMichael, Dr. Barbara Kornegay, Mary Jane Bell, Carlos Cotto, Margaret Davis, Mary Grady, Richard Lambert and Roy Parker.

Executive Director Alice Strickland recognized guests. She thanked Jo Fleischman -- who, with Mrs. Strickland, are the Arts Council's only staff -- for her hard work and good attitude.

She also thanked the board of the directors, the community for helping the Arts Council achieve what it has, the past presidents and Taylor.

She presented Taylor with a watercolor by Ginger Gatlin in recognition of his service as president. Later, she presented Ms. Regan with a basket made by Uli Shepard.