Proponents have spent a lot of time and energy talking about the economic impact of the arts in Portland. Until now, the only data to support their position were sketchy and incomplete.

A new study by a national arts advocacy organization offers a more complete snapshot.

Americans for the Arts collected data specific to Portland for its Arts & Economic Prosperity IV survey.

It suggests that Portland’s nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $49.1 million industry, with organizational spending of $26.5 million and audience expenditures of $22.6 million.

The city’s nonprofit arts and culture industry supports the equivalent of 1,535 jobs, the survey says.

The results are based on data from 38 nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Portland, as well as 738 audience surveys. Data for the report were collected in 2011.

Americans for the Arts released the results Friday. The Creative Portland Corp., which supports the city’s economic development efforts with an emphasis on creative economy enterprise and arts district development, collected the data locally and funneled the results to Americans for the Arts.

“Portland has this really fabulous creative density,” said Jennifer Hutchins, executive director of Creative Portland. “This report validates everything we know and feel about the city in regards to the importance of arts and culture in this city’s vitality and identification. It is something everybody recognizes and knows, but it is so helpful to have this data.”

The new survey is the second of its kind conducted for Portland.

The first was in 2005, also sponsored by Americans for the Arts and assisted locally by the Portland Arts and Cultural Alliance. That survey was far less complete, with a smaller sample size. In 2005, 21 of 52 organizations responded to the survey, along with 349 audience members.

The 2005 survey suggested total arts and culture nonprofit expenditures of $28.6 million and 877 equivalent full-time jobs.

The 38 organizational responses for the new survey represent about half the arts and culture nonprofits in the city. The report does not measure spending or jobs in the commercial sector, Hutchins said.

“These numbers represent simply the nonprofit community,” she said. “It does not take into consideration organizations like the State Theatre or any of the commercial art galleries or any other commercial activity related to the arts and culture. None of that is in there.”

A few other numbers:

Attendees at Portland events spend more per capita than the national average: $28.25 per person in Portland compared with $24.60 nationally.

That figure does not include the cost of admission to an event, because that figure shows up as revenue in the operating budgets of the participating organizations. This methodology avoids “double-counting” those dollars in the analysis.

Spending categories used to derive this figure included refreshments and snacks at an event, meals before or after, souvenirs, clothing, ground transportation, event-related child care and overnight lodging.

Tourists and people living outside Cumberland County spend more than local residents: $39.19 compared with $21.01. Again, those figures do not include admission costs.

The national report is the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, according to Americans for the Arts.

Across the country, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $135.2 billion of economic activity, including $61.1 billion in spending by organizations, plus an additional $74.1 billion in spending by their audiences.

This economic activity supports 4.1 million full-time equivalent jobs and generates $22.3 billion in revenue to local, state and federal governments.

By comparison, local, state and federal governments spend about $4 billion in arts appropriations, according to the survey.

Creative Portland will begin rolling out the survey this week — just in time for a visit by National Endowment for the Arts chairman Rocco Landesman.

The timing of Landesman’s visit and the report is coincidental, said Hutchins, who will participate in a forum with the NEA chairman at Portland Stage Company on Wednesday afternoon.

“It presents a wonderful opportunity, and I will be making reference to it in my presentation,” she said. “It’s just so great to have the quantifiable measure for what we know anecdotally and what we believe anecdotally. It lends so much validity to what we are doing at Creative Portland.”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be reached at 791-6457 or:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphbkeyes