Susan Weiner, the new director for the Georgia Council for the Arts, appeared before an audience of Augusta arts professionals and enthusiasts Thursday, bearing a message of numbers.
The presentation, part of Ms. Weiner's 12-city State of the Arts tour, urged local organizations to look at the hard facts and figures associated with the fine and performing arts. She already has visited Athens, Gainesville, LaGrange, Tifton and Albany and will follow Augusta with stops in Statesboro, Columbus, Calhoun, Morrow, Macon and Swainsboro.
Ms. Weiner said the tour was motivated by the idea of learning what issues concerned Georgia arts groups outside the greater Atlanta area, and offering an opportunity to give encouragement and advice to the perpetually struggling industry.
"I knew that I needed to go around the state and explain to Georgians that the arts enrich our souls, but they also enrich our pocketbooks," she said.
Ms. Weiner said she understands the economic struggles of arts organizations, but is enthused that despite shrinking audiences and coffers, arts and culture remain an economic engine in most communities.
"In the United States, arts and culture is a $134-billion-a-year industry," she said. "That's just the nonprofit groups. You are an economic engine for the state of Georgia."
Ms. Weiner said the secret to raising money is quantification, hard facts about attendance and economic impact that groups can present to potential donors, granting agencies and government officials. She encouraged the groups to keep careful track of who is coming to events, where they are coming from and, especially, how much they are spending.
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