Sat, March 02, 2024

Using arts to stimulate tourism

A new art exhibition in Augusta could mean a boost to tourism figures, particularly by the minority communities.

The New Urban Black Artists’ Guild (NuBAG) in partnership with the Greater Augusta Arts Council, is featuring local artists in the Gallery at Augusta & Co. on Broad Street.

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Arts and entertainment showed continued strength in the latest government report on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the seven counties that make up the Augusta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

Dr. Simon Medcalfe, an economics professor at Augusta University and contributor for Augusta Business Daily, studied the figures and found, “One consistent growth area was arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services. “All counties that had data, reported growth in this sector. Given this was 2022, it reflects the strong consumer expenditures of the post-pandemic era and the resultant inflation.”

Dr. Simon Medcalfe

That echoes a report released late last year by Americans for the Arts, a Washington, DC industry group that conducted a survey to determine how spending by the arts and culture organizations impacts Augusta’s economy. Richmond County was one of 373 communities and regions across all 50 states and Puerto Rico, where the information was collected for the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study.

In 2022, the study found that arts and culture, organizations that are traditionally non-profit and tax-exempt, still generated $24.6 million in spending, specifically in Richmond County. The money was spent by consumers on goods and services, including hotel lodging, meals, and purchases which resulted in $2.8 million in local, state, and federal tax revenue. That breaks down to $428,530 for local coffers.

For the first time, the (AEP6) survey asked specifically about spending by attendees for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) organizations. It found it was nearly identical to the overall national average ($38.29 and $38.46 per person, respectively).

“With the research showing proportional economic and community impacts, these findings should initiate new, and escalate existing, critical funding conversations about BIPOC and ALAANA organizations receiving fair and proportional financial support,” recommended the study.

Ronic West, President of the Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce, said the NuBag exhibit can highlight the impact minority communities have on arts and entertainment tourism.

“It’s very unique, but you know, Augusta is 56% black. So, I think it’s important that we continue to highlight everything that’s happening in Augusta,” she said. “It attracts more for our workforce. It attracts more for our people who are thinking about moving here. We love the Masters, but when I’m outside of Augusta, everybody just says the Masters. Having things like this will continue to highlight the area. It’s going to make Augusta a great place.”

The guild chose its name as a nod to one of the Augusta area’s most famous residents, singer James Brown, and his song, “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag.”

“Definitely got to pay homage to our heritage, which is, of course, James Brown,” said West. “And I think we would love to see a bigger music festival in Augusta with the new James Brown Arena. So just hint, hint, hint that some of the community is really pushing for.”

Soul of Augusta: Celebrating Culture, Diversity, and Victory includes artists Allen Lewis, Destinee Love, and Baruti Tucker. It opened on January 4 and will continue through March 28. Augusta & Co. is at 1010 Broad Street. It is open 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday.

More information about the showcase is at: www.augustaarts.com/galleries/soul-of-augusta-nubag/.

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