Spending on the arts and culture in Portland increased over the past five years and created new jobs, according to a report released Tuesday by the national nonprofit group Americans for the Arts.

The report showed that spending by the organizations and their audiences increased from $49 million to $75 million since the group released its last report in 2012. The report also found that the 46 nonprofit organizations surveyed supported 2,372 full-time equivalent jobs and generated $57.3 million in household income. The last report on Portland by Americans for the Arts attributed 1,535 full-time jobs and $35.4 million in household income to 38 arts organizations.

“I think this reinforces and validates that the arts are an essential economic driver,” said Dinah Minot, executive director of Creative Portland, the city’s nonprofit arts agency. “A report like this is likely to help (businesses and nonprofits in the creative economy) get more support from the city and from corporate sponsors.”

Measuring the overall impact of arts groups on the city’s economy is difficult. Neither the city’s economic development department nor the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce keeps comparable numbers on other business sectors in the city and how much they and their customers spend, officials at both said Tuesday. But the job numbers can be compared with other city employment sectors.

In 2014, the U.S. Census estimated that there were 67,648 jobs in Portland. The nonprofit arts and culture jobs mentioned in the report would translate to roughly 3.5 percent of the job total in the city. The Census data also listed a labor force for arts and entertainment jobs in Portland of 4,669. But that includes nonprofits and for-profit businesses.

Census data for 2014, included in the city’s long-term comprehensive plan, also provides some job creation comparisons with other industries. Education and health care made up the largest sector of the labor force in Portland that year, accounting for 10,612 jobs. The data listed Portland’s finance, insurance and real estate segment as employing 3,007 people, while it listed 2,507 in manufacturing jobs. The Census data did not indicate whether those were full-time jobs, or all jobs.

Still, a finding of $75 million generated by 46 nonprofit arts-based groups is an indicator that creative organizations are a growing and important segment of the city’s economy, along with traditional sectors like manufacturing, health care, education and finance, said Greg Mitchell, the city’s economic development director.

Mitchell said the report will be useful to the city in efforts to attract more millennials and younger residents, something that’s crucial to expanding the workforce and attracting more employers.

“I saw that number and thought it was a great sign; it shows that arts and culture are a huge part of Portland and such a draw to people to visit and live here,” said Quincy Hentzel, interim CEO at the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The organizations surveyed spent $46.6 million in fiscal year 2015 to run their organizations, while their audiences or customers spent $29 million. The survey released Tuesday is part of a national survey by Americans for the Arts done every five years. The group said that 125 nonprofits met their criteria for the survey, and 46 agreed to participate.

To participate in the survey, local groups had to provide extensive information and answer many questions. The length of time needed to reply to the survey probably deterred some smaller groups from participating, Minot said.

But the city’s largest and most visible arts and cultural institutions did participate, including: the Portland Museum of Art, Portland Ovations, Portland Stage Company, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Portland Public Library, Maine College of Art, and Maine Historical Society.

In the last survey done in Portland by Americans for the Arts, using data from fiscal year 2010, 38 nonprofits participated, Minot said.

The study should help convince the city, and other businesses, to invest in the creative economy, Minot said. For example, she would like to see the city’s downtown arts district more directly identified, with banners and signs telling people how to get there, and telling them when they’ve arrived. She also would like to see a designated “arts” line bus, with stops at various locations in the arts district. Creative Portland works to help artists and arts and cultural groups succeed in the city.

In April, a report released by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis found that arts and culture businesses all over Maine contributed 16,000 jobs and $764.9 million in worker income to the state economy in 2014. That report was based on economic data gathered by the U.S. Census every five years.

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 210-1183 or at:

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