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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
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Clark Economic Impact

12:00AM / Thursday, October 06, 2005

Williamstown - The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute released the results of a study commissioned from the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut that highlights the Clark's major economic contribution to the surrounding region during an Oct. 5 presentation.

By releasing the report at this time, the Clark is making its data available in support of ongoing regional efforts to quantify and gain support for the value of the arts in terms of economic generation and cultural benefit. These regional initiatives include the joint efforts of The Berkshire Economic Development Corporation, Berkshire Visitors Bureau, Berkshire Chamber of Commerce and other organizations to develop a Strategic Plan for the growth of the Creative Economy of the Berkshires.

Impacts Over Eight Counties

The CCEA report, commissioned in 2004, used fiscal year 2003 data to quantify the Clark's economic impact in an eight-county region. This region, centered in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, includes Albany, Columbia, and Rensselaer counties in New York, Bennington County in Vermont, and Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties in Massachusetts.

Founded in 1955, the Clark has an annual operating budget of nearly $11 million, and it employs more than 80 full-time employees with a payroll of close to $4 million. With more than 175,000-200,000 visitors on average every year it regularly ranks as the largest year-round tourist attraction in the Berkshires. A recent survey indicated that 43 percent of its visitors come to the Berkshires specifically for the Clark thus stimulating collective visitorship in the region.

The report showed:

$20.3 million spent in the region by visitors to the Clark
$17.2 million in annual additions to the personal income of the region
$18.3 million in additions to the total economic output of the economy of the region
380 full-time equivalent jobs stimulated throughout the region by the Clark

Cultural Value

Community-oriented arts institutions with world recognized collections and programs like the Clark are invaluable to their communities and regions. Numerous studies show that they are central to the quality of life and critical to the attraction and retention of professionals and businesses. Research by Richard Florida of Carnegie-Mellon University demonstrates the value of creative workers, nourished by cultural institutions, to vibrant locations. A recent survey reports that a remarkable 99 percent of chief executive officers cite the availability of cultural activities in an area as a major consideration when choosing a new location.

As an art museum with international impact, the Clark plays a major part in the cultural fabric of the Berkshires and is committed to the further economic growth of the region. The Clark collaborates regularly with various cultural partners on programming and strategic initiatives in the Berkshires including: the Berkshire Museum, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Hancock Shaker Village, Jacob's Pillow, MASS MoCA, Norman Rockwell Museum, Tanglewood Music Center, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williams College and others. Cultural tourism is of special significance, as this type of tourist stays longer and spends more than other visitor type.

About the CCEA

The Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis (CCEA) was established in 1992 and is located at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. By providing timely, reliable information on economic issues the CCEA equips decision makers, including the public, with the foundation for systematic and thorough debate of public-policy issues. Past cultural organizations that the CCEA has worked with include the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford and the New Britain Museum of American Art. The CCEA is currently working on a major study to assess the economic value of all of Connecticut's arts and cultural organizations.

The full CCEA report on the Economic Impact of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is available by contacting the Clark at info@clarkart.edu.

About the Clark Art Institute

The Clark is one of the country's foremost art museums and a dynamic center for research and higher education in art history and criticism. The Clark's exceptional collections of Old Master, Impressionist, and 19th-century American art displayed in intimate galleries are enhanced by its dramatic 140-acre setting in the Berkshires. Upcoming special exhibitions include Winslow Homer: Marking Art, Making History (Fall 2005) and The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings from the Collections of Sterling and Stephen Clark (Summer 2006).

The Clark's public education and community programs actively engage people of all ages and backgrounds. In addition to providing free gallery and classroom programs to schools, the Clark fully funds transportation costs for any school group that can travel to Williamstown by bus in one day

The Clark is one of only a few art museums in the United States that is also a major research and academic center, with an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia, and one of the most comprehensive art research libraries in the world. The Clark, together with Williams College, jointly sponsors one of the nation's leading M.A. programs in art history.


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