One’s eyes tend to glaze over when reading or listening to a story that involves budgets and economic impact figures, and while the facts and figures may be impressive, most of what has been read or heard has been forgotten by the time the last few sentences are finished. Many of us are just not “numbers” people. However, listening to Cultural Council Executive Director Tony Allegretti’s May 11th announcement about how much the creative sector has affected the economies of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, it’s easy to stay wide awake.
To hear that the City of Jacksonville’s $2.4 million official investment in arts and culture (a mere .24 of 1% of the city’s total budget) had a return of more than $70 million for the 2013/14 fiscal year is stunning. What’s even more impressive is that the figure went up $12 million dollars from the previous year’s return of $58 million with the same investment amount of $2.4 million. “You can just imagine what we could do with even more funding,” Allegretti suggests.
He explains that the investment from the city’s Cultural Service Grant program is re-granted to “really great art institutions and organizations – everything from the symphony to The Cummer to MOSH [Museum of Science and History] and MOCA [Museum of Contemporary Art – Jacksonville].” More than twenty Duval County non-profit arts and cultural organizations have been awarded Cultural Service Grants in the current year, and Allegretti is certain that the return on investment will continue to rise dramatically when the newer figures are announced next year. He also notes there is “much more going on,” because these city investment figures don’t include many other cultural institutions and events that don’t receive Cultural Service Grant funding, including the Jacksonville Zoo, the libraries, Jacksonville Jazz Fest, One Spark, and Jacksonville’s numerous independent artists and performers.
Article written by Eva Dasher