A Year With Crystal Bridges Benefits The Economy
The one-year anniversary of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was Sunday. Since its opening, the museum has brought education and economic benefits to the area, officials said.
“The year we have been open has exceeded our expectations. We have had wonderful support and attendance,” said Diane Carroll, Crystal Bridges media relation manager.
Crystal Bridges has been an icon in northwest Arkansas since it opened in November 2011 and has also had an impact on the local economy.
“The presence of an artistic center absolutely boosts northwest Arkansas’ reputation as a worthwhile place to live and work, which has positive economic effects,” said Preston Scrape, senior.
Though the impact the museum has had on the economy seems obvious, there has been no way to generally estimate the impact, an official said.
“There is no definite way to calculate the impact the museum has had on the economy, but there has been an increase in foot traffic and an astronomical increase in number of tour buses that visit the area,” said Tom Ginn, vice president of economic development for the Bentonville and Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce.
The museum is a nonprofit organization and employs about 130 people, Carroll said.
In 2010, nonprofit arts and cultural industries had impacts of $61.1 billion and accounted for 0.87 percent of the workforce, according to a Americans for the Arts study.
Because the permanent exhibits are free at the museum, the majority of the revenue is generated from endowments, the museum store and the café, Carroll said.
“I can not speak of UA student involvement. We have a constant need for volunteers and we have volunteers of all ages. Also, we are beginning a new program next year specifically for college students, a collaborative group that involves students from area universities. It will meet monthly and interactions will involve art, history and culture,” Carroll said.
The average city that participated in the Americans for the Arts study had 5,215 arts volunteers who donated 201,719 hours to nonprofit arts and culture organizations, a donation valued at $4.3 million. The participating organizations had an average of 116.2 volunteers who volunteered an average of 44.8 hours each, for a total of 5,204 hours per organization, according to the study.