It seems that the arts are alive and well in Westchester. During a breakfast event on September 20, ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam took the stage to tout the success of her organization’s recent Art$WChallenge, as well as the conclusion of a study illuminating the breadth of the arts’ economic impact on the county. The event was attended by County Executive Rob Astorino, County Legislator James Maisano, and a wealth of representatives from arts and culture organizations across Westchester.
The study, conducted by Americans for the Arts, found that arts and culture in Westchester generates $172.3 million in total economic activity, and that since 1995, the economic impact of the arts to the county has increased by more than 218 percent. The study also found that the county’s arts industry supports 5,179 full-time equivalent jobs and delivers $25.8 million in local and state government revenue.
The event also drew attention to ArtsWestchester’s successful Art$WChallenge, which raised a grand total of $4 million to go towards the organization’s mission. The Art$WChallange allowed individual donations of up to $5,000 to be matched by ArtsWestchester with the support of the Westchester County Government.
“Sometimes life can be a little dark and we need a little color; and where do we get that color from? We get it from the arts,” said Legislator James Maisano. “And there is no question that all these arts programs make us a better county to live in and improve the quality of life…so as a county legislator, and speaking on behalf of 17 legislators, we are going to keep working to make sure the arts get the proper funding in the county every year.”
Langsam pointed to the wealth of disparate organizations and individuals that help arts programs thrive in the county. “We have a great team, and the team is not just ArtsWestcester,” noted Langsam. “It is county governments, the corporate sector, individuals, and the organizations that deliver the arts to the county — that team is what makes great art.”
During his own remarks, County Executive Astorino agreed that both the draw of the arts as well as its economic impact should not be ignored. “The arts have been a vital part of Westchester,” Astorino said. “It is one of the things that we tout. We understand we have some of the biggest competition maybe in the world with New York City, but we feel very strongly that we can compete in certain ways, certainly for our own residents, as well as attracting others from a nice circumference. I think the economic indicators and strength of what the arts provide Westchester is truly important.”