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YAC to show arts mean business

A high honor has arrived for Lafayette County and its arts community.

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council has joined efforts with Arts and Economic Prosperity 5, a national study measuring the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences.

It’s a research study being conducted by Americans for the Arts, the national nonprofit group that advances the arts and art education. It’s only the fifth study to be tackled in the past 20 years, and it goes in depth, studying the financial impact on the arts in a community ranging from sales tax dollars down to allocations from local and state government.

“Americans for the Arts selected 300 communities across the country and Lafayette County is the only community in Mississippi in the study,” said Wayne Andrews, director of the arts council. “This is a huge responsibility and a great chance to show how the arts contribute to the local economy, generates tourism, and creates jobs in Mississippi.”

Andrews said YAC is more than a nonprofit that plans fun art events for residents. The arts is an industry that drives commerce, tourism and more.

“If Mississippi has anything that we are number one in, it is our art and culture,” he said. “Last year 22 million tourists visited our state, exploring our festivals, historic homes and great food.

Various local organizations like Visit Oxford, Volunteer Oxford and RSVP will work with YAC by handing out surveys that can be filled out anonymously. Surveys ask people how much they spend while attending arts events, whether it is the cost of a ticket or dinner and a hotel. Data will show how much outside dollars come in as a result of arts events.

Andrews said data will be collected during 2016 with results coming in June 2017.

“This study will show that when we support the arts in Lafayette County, we are making an investment in an industry, one that supports jobs and generates government revenue, and is the cornerstone of tourism,” Andrews said.

Andrews said whether it is a local quilting guild or someone planning the Double Decker festival, everyone can take part in the study and show what the arts means to Oxford and Lafayette County.

Community members can reach out to YAC at 662-236-6429 or email yacirector@gmail.com to be included in the survey.