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The Arts Are a Powerful Economic Engine

By Robert Wagner, director of visual and performing arts
Billions of dollars are generated through the arts.
At LJCDS, the arts aren’t just a hobby—they’re an integral part of our vibrant community culture. Over 40 performances light up our stage throughout the year, from captivating musicals like the recent standing-room-only production of Mean Girls to the energetic Taiko Beats concert that connects our students with local professional musicians. Drawing over 500 visitors this year, the All-School Art Festival is an explosion of creativity, showcasing the imaginative talents of our entire student body in a multitude of mediums.

These events are celebrations of artistic expression and vital components of a much larger phenomenon—the arts as a powerful economic engine. According to a recent study by Americans for the Arts, Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), “In 2022, nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences generated $151.7 billion in economic activity. The impact of this economic activity is far-reaching, supporting 2.6 million jobs, generating $29.1 billion in tax revenue, and providing $101 billion in personal income to residents.”

The study shows that our local economy mirrors the national trend. San Diego’s nonprofit arts and culture sector generated a remarkable $1.2 billion. But how exactly does this happen?  Imagine the throngs of excited patrons attending a play at The Old Globe in Balboa Park. The AEP6 study tells us their spending ripples outwards, benefiting countless businesses. It’s not just a result of ticket sales—think parking fees, restaurant meals, program purchases and souvenirs like T-shirts. This event-related spending accounts for $78.4 billion, a significant chunk of the total economic impact.

The connection between LJCDS and this economic impact is clear. Our packed theater and other well-attended events show we are fostering a love for the arts that will create generations of artistic creators and supporters. While we are thrilled that some of our students will pursue a career in the arts, many more will become avid museum-goers, passionate theater attendees, and enthusiastic supporters of local artists. Their cultural engagement ensures the arts scene continues to flourish in San Diego.

The arts aren’t a luxury; they’re an investment—in our children’s creativity, our cultural vibrancy, and the countless jobs the arts sector supports. Next time you see an LJCDS student on stage or their artwork on display, remember—you’re witnessing the future of the arts, a future that fuels not just artistic expression but also economic prosperity for our community and the nation.
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La Jolla, CA 92037
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