Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the arts AND sports

The arts and sports profoundly influence a community’s quality of life. It’s not an either-or proposition. We need museums, theaters and sports venues. (I’m particularly fond of the culinary arts!) The arts AND sports work TOGETHER. 

I was looking at some attendance figures last week that make it perfectly clear. West Side Story had a very successful run at the Durham Performing Arts Center June 5th – 10th drawing a total of 19,000 patrons. The Bulls - playing next door (literally!) - were at home during that time frame. Over the same six-day period we drew 34,000 fans. 

That goes a long way toward explaining downtown Durham’s renaissance - the arts and sports working side-by-side. 

For a couple of decades Durham has been playing defense, but we’re on offense now! That’s the gist of recent remarks from Mike Schoenfeld. He’s chair of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and VP of Public Affairs at Duke University. Under Mike’s leadership, the Chamber is looking at arts and sports as a new economic development tool. We market higher education, our highly educated workforce and the creative class of designers, software developers and entrepreneurs. Our arts organizations and sports teams should be on the list, too. 

Americans for the Arts released a study on Monday addressing the arts’ local economic impact. In Durham County, expenditures by nonprofits and their audiences (in 2010) totaled $125.5 million. Now, it’s on my list to aggregate the value of Duke and NCCU sports, the Bulls, USA Baseball and other amateur sporting events in Durham.