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Arts an economic driver, says speaker

Staff Writer | October 12, 2022 1:06 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — The first question Alison Espindola asked at the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber’s Upbeat Breakfast on Tuesday was this:

“What do you think the purpose of the arts are?”

The community development director at the Idaho Commission on the Arts offered the answer.

“First and foremost, arts are here to improve quality of life,” she said.

A thriving arts community can separate one community from another, she added. It can encourage people to question their judgements and preconceived notions.

“It helps us express complex ideas and reflects our culture as well as our heritage,” Espindola said.

But art is also big business and has a significant impact on the economy, she said to about 150 people at The Coeur d’Alene Resort.

The annual economic impact of nonprofit arts in the U.S. is estimated at $166 billion, she said, which is much higher than most people may realize.

According to the Idaho Nonprofit Center, there are 501 organizations in the state that are connected to arts; 807 jobs; $18 million in payroll; $119 million in assets and $50 million in expenditures.

Espindola said there are 20,235 creative industries workers in Idaho and $900 million in annual compensation.

As part of the program to emphasize the impact of art on quality of life and the economy, local artists Sue Loughlin and Carol Maddux painted and sculpted while musicians from the Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra performed.

Coeur d’Alene benefits from having a thriving arts community, she said.

“It is actually an economic driver,” Espindola said.