Sonoma Stories: Arts in Action
Read about arts organizations in Sonoma County whose work is driving our economy.
Sebastopol Center for the Arts: Raising the Bar Artistically and Economically
Founded in 1988, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts (SCA) is an anchor tenant in Sonoma County’s cultural arts scene, housed in the local Veterans Building (after significant renovations undertaken by SCA) and producing multi-genre programs that draw 50,000 artists and arts enthusiasts annually. Among its offerings are an international documentary film festival; local, regional and national exhibitions; ceramics programs; performing and literary arts events; a full slate of workshops for youth and adults, and more.
SCA is also the producer of the county’s two largest open studios events: Art Trails and Art at the Source. Artists involved in these programs are surveyed to gather data about the collective economic impact for the artists, and by extension the County, as a result of these 4 weekends. In 2017, 141 Art Trails reported $427,508 despite the fact that the event occurred immediate following the October wildfires. The figure was down $230,750 from 2016. Art at the Source showed $253,310 from 111 artists, down slightly from the prior year. The combined sales from these two events generates tax receipts of $55,300 – showing that sales by individual artists over the 8 weekend days is a nice contribution to local government coffers.
These two programs, with their collective 4 weekends of activities, are a unique snapshot on the actual and potential impact that individual artists can have on our economy, even though their efforts and their work are often under counted and underappreciated by traditional economic measures.
Transcendence Theatre Company: Art Drives Tourism
Bringing together professional Broadway experiences with the remarkable beauty of Sonoma County for a unique evening under the stars has proved to be a successful strategy for Transcendence Theatre Company. Beginning with an inaugural concert in 2011 in Jack London State Park, Transcendence summer productions have grown to include four productions in its annual Broadway Under the Stars series, a Kids Camp, and more.
Transcendence estimates that 26% of its audiences each summer are out of town visitors, including 6% from out of state. These audiences reflect those who responded to our AEP survey that they came to Sonoma County specifically to attend a cultural event, thereby bringing in out of County revenues to our community. In addition, the company has developed partnerships with 75 wineries each summer, as well as hotels and restaurants, that collectively work to encourage and serve visitors with a comprehensive Sonoma County experience.
Understanding that these performances held the potential for a great draw of tourist’s audience, Transcendence has targeted some of its marketing resources directly to out of town visitors in areas that regularly send visitors to Sonoma including Oregon and Washington State as well as San Francisco and the East Bay. Transcendence’s success has led to the expansion of its programs to include the annual Holiday Broadway Spectacular which now occurs in two locations – one in and one outside of Sonoma County, further growing their audiences from across the region.
The work of Transcendence Theatre Company is a powerful example of how the arts are an economic driver for our community through their tourist and local audience draw.
Want to see your Sonoma Story here? Send 3 paragraphs to CreativeSonoma@sonoma-county.org about how your work is contributing to our economy, in the ways listed above, or otherwise. We’ll review and post based on the volume and appropriateness of submissions.
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