There Are No Small Parts

Researching facts and figures prior to starting my consulting business, I learned several things about theater in Connecticut that I hadn’t know before. Read on even if you’re not in Connecticut—this applies to you too.

Obviously one of the first things I looked for was potential clients. I found quite a few web pages with theaters around the state listed and linked. When I started looking closely and combining those lists though, I realized that there are over one hundred theater companies in the small state of Connecticut. (There are only one hundred sixty-nine towns in this third-smallest state.) And that number of theaters doesn’t include many children’s and summer theaters or most of the theaters at colleges and universities. It certainly doesn’t include theater programs at high schools or middle schools or many other drama conservatories or clubs either. A large list of professional and community theaters in Connecticut is now located here at this website. (If you know of one that I’ve missed, please comment or email and let me know.)

I also learned, from a December 2006 study released by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, what a significant economic impact the arts have on the state. As a whole, the arts (which includes dance, music, opera and visual and literary arts as well as theater) provide more than 27,000 jobs in the state and support a total of 44,000 other jobs. The gross state product generated annually from the arts is more than $3.8 billion including $2.6 billion in personal income. Combined with other cultural sectors (film, history and tourism), cultural jobs account for ten percent of the state’s labor force and $14 billion in economic activity. That’s more jobs created and more gross product generated than by either the aerospace or the pharmaceutical industries in Connecticut—both of which have a significant presence in the state—but not as significant, apparently, as the arts.

Putting all of this information together, it’s clear that the great economic impact that the arts have on the state of Connecticut doesn’t come only from bigger organizations such as the Long Wharf Theatre or Hartford Stage. It’s not coming only from Yale University art museums or the Wadsworth Atheneum. It’s a combined effort of the hundreds of arts organizations—both large and small—that operate, employ, and culturally and economically impact Connecticut.

Certainly, these facts and figures aren’t unique to Connecticut. In New York, the Alliance of Resident Theatres has long noticed that the fastest growing sector of its membership is smaller theaters with budgets under $100,000. And New York is definitely aware of the economic impact that the arts have in the state as well. Across the country, theaters and other arts organizations are generating income, paying employees, encouraging patrons and volunteers to spend money in restaurants and shops, and circulating those monies in their communities.

Why is this important for every theater to know? Because it’s the information that donors and sponsors and patrons need to hear—that they’re not only supporting culture and a few hungry artists, but that they’re contributing to a significant economic impact in their communities as well.

So, if you’re not in Connecticut, go find some comparable facts and figures for your own state.  In any state, mention these facts in a few marketing materials and funding applications. And congratulate yourselves for having made such an impact.

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