The Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) show that the arts are having an economic impact at the state and national levels.
The latest report from GCA shows that 200,000 jobs with an economic impact of $48 billion are directly connected to the creative industries in the Peach State. That presence is also a selling tool to attract new businesses to Georgia.
“Georgia communities are successfully using the arts as a part of their local economic development efforts. Georgia’s creative economy not only contributes to the state’s bottom line, but also draws millions of tourists each year, adds significantly to the quality of life and vitality of every community, and represents the bulk of Georgia’s rich cultural identity. Our thriving creative economy contributes to Georgia being not only an ideal place to do business, but also an incredible place to live and explore,” reports GCA.
Comic book and sci-fi aficionados have Comic-Con and DragonCon. Augusta University hosted its first MusiCon, organized by the Pamplin Department of Music. The event held October 20, highlighted the history and heart of Augusta University.
“The idea is to really show what we do and show that we have a music department that’s alive and well,” explained Marcel Ramalho, director of choral activities and professor of voice. “So, the possibilities of music studies, even for those who are not even majors, or don’t even want to minor music, they can always come in, then just join and play or sing with the ensembles.”
The original plan was to use the Doug Barnard Amphitheater for MusiCon, but threatening weather conditions prompted a move to the Maxwell Performing Arts Theater. The orchestra, conducted by Dr. Robert Saunders, set up on the front porch to perform.
Brody McLaughlin, a junior studying music education, thought it was a great experience for music majors to perform in public. It also raises the profile of the arts programs for potential students.
“I think, especially this semester, we’re ramping up our community outreach more than ever. We’re trying to get as many people into the music department as possible,” he said. “It’s my favorite place here in Augusta, I have so many friends here. And my family went here as well.”
From its early days as Augusta College, the school had a reputation for being a top-quality education, particularly in the liberal and fine arts. In more recent years, the focus has grown on computer and cyber education programs.
Zachary Hulsey is an example of what AU offers. He is a dual major student, a sophomore in his music major, and a senior in his history major.
“When I was in the Air Force at Fort Gordon, I wasn’t able to take classes in person, and I could only take two at a time. That really cut out most of the music stuff, which is what I wanted to do,” he said. “But history is another passion of mine. I was able to knock out a lot of my history degree online. And when I went full-time here, I wanted to add the music. But the history has really given me insights on like how to do research and really had to buckle down and do the hard stuff.”
Ramalho said that diversity can benefit other students.
“There’s plenty of research out there that shows the good effects music can have on your life; you probably need some break from all the stress of classes of your major, biology or med school, or whatever it is. Coming and seeing an ensemble and taking some music classes can actually work as a moment for you to just relax and do something that you are very much passionate about.”
At the national level, NEA in March 2021 cited an Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA) report that studied the annual economic impact of 35 industries. It found economic activity in the sector was expanding.
“Production of arts and cultural goods and services in the U.S. added 4.3% directly to the nation’s GDP, for a total approaching a trillion dollars ($919.7 billion). This amount remains greater than the value added by such industries as construction, transportation and warehousing, mining, and agriculture. Arts and cultural industries had 5.2 million workers on payroll with a total compensation of $447 billion. This figure does not include self-employed arts workers,” according to ACPSA.
The same report found that between 2017 and 2019, the value of arts and cultural production grew the GDP at a rate of 3%. That was slightly higher than the economic growth rate for the U.S.
The impact doesn’t surprise Ramalho.
“Music is needed. Beauty is needed in life. Technology is there. The world is evolving, technology is evolving, day by day. And it’s really a way to remind people that beauty and artistic beauty are still very much needed in our lives,” he said.
More information on the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is available at: www.augusta.edu/pamplin/.