Arts and culture: Big Business in Edmonds | City Corner

Jul 07, 2017

Whether it’s art galleries, performing arts, or jazz down on the waterfront, Edmonds is chock full of arts and cultural activities year-round – a notable part of what makes Edmonds special and attractive to so many residents and visitors alike.

The historic, small-town feel and gorgeous waterfront setting, with painterly vistas of the Olympic Mountains and captivating sunsets, surely must be the genesis of the artistic flair in our community, as seems to be the case with other arts-oriented seaside communities: Sausalito, La Conner, Newport Beach and Carmel, to name a few.

While most of us in Edmonds, and throughout the region, recognize the strong and vibrant arts and culture scene here, what many may not appreciate is the substantial impact of the arts and culture sector within the Edmonds economy.

In short, arts and culture mean big business.

It’s not just the direct purchase of event tickets, art pieces or dance classes that constitutes that impact, but the vendors and employees who serve those venues and the spinoff effects of their increased income and spending, as well.

But to be honest, we don’t have a good handle on exactly what the extent of this economic impact might be.

And it’s precisely that lack of information that the city is seeking to fill through its recent commission of an economic impact study of the arts and culture sector by the team of BERK Consulting and AdvisArts. They have begun their work in our community just in the past few weeks.

With the guidance of an advisory group comprised of arts, culture and civic leaders, and the participation of key staff, the project will conduct surveys of arts and culture participants, as well as arts organization management staff, over the summer.

Once these data are collected, the consultant team can assess both the quantifiable and anecdotal economic impacts of the arts and culture sector in our community.

You, too, can participate in the study.

If you haven’t already been intercepted by a survey-taker at one of our recent local festivals, we encourage you to go online to take a brief survey about your participation in arts and culture activities in Edmonds.

Here’s the link:

Do you also have a story, an anecdote or observation about the role arts and culture play in your family or in the Edmonds community? In addition to facts and figure, you can help the city tell a well-rounded story about arts and culture in Edmonds with your comments and insights through our “story collector” at

After compiling all the data and stories, the consultant team will present preliminary findings to the advisory group, include their feedback and insight, and prepare a conclusory report for presentation to the City Council and public.

Our hope is that with documented evidence of the undeniably substantial impact of the arts and culture in Edmonds, we can make the right decisions moving forward about supporting and enhancing the sector in the future.

In the meantime, keep enjoying all the activities, programs and events that An Edmonds Kind of Summer brings!

Patrick Doherty is Edmonds' Economic Development & Community Services director.



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