Saratoga Partnership Releases Saratoga County Cultural Index: Arts and Cultural Institutions Generate $80M in Annual Economic Impact

Organization leaders are optimistic about prospects for future growth, see opportunities to encourage entrepreneurship and build community partnerships

Elizabeth Sobol, Teddy Foster, Marty Vanags, Maureen Sager, and Joel Reed

 The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, the county’s designated economic development agency, today unveiled its inaugural Saratoga County Cultural Index, which reveals that arts and cultural organizations are a significant economic force in Saratoga County – generating more than $80 million in annual economic impact, directly employing over 1,600 people, and serving nearly 6.8 million patrons, including many tourists attracted to the county.

The index was presented during a luncheon attended by more than 125 corporate executives and business professionals at the Excelsior Springs Event Center in Saratoga Springs.

“Along with supporting a vibrant quality of life, our world-class arts and cultural institutions pump considerable dollars into our community,” said Marty Vanags, President of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. “The Saratoga County Cultural Index makes it clear these organizations are critical partners in driving long-term, sustainable economic development.”

In creating the index, the Saratoga Partnership gathered information from 2016, the most recent year available – including revenue, expenditures and attendance figures – from two dozen Saratoga County institutions presenting performing and visual arts, museums, and entities focused on preservation, history, and culture. It then applied metrics developed by Americans for the Arts, the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, which annually reports on the arts and culture industry’s national economic impact.

The collective results portray a robust arts and cultural sector in Saratoga County, including:

  • Expenditures on goods and services (by institutions): $27.2 million
  • Expenditures on goods and services (by audiences): $22.2 million
  • Revenue to organizations (including all sources): $26.3 million
  • Local government revenue generated: $2.1 million
  • State government revenue generated: $2.5 million
  • Total salaries paid to direct employees: $7.1 million
  • Total household income of direct employees: $32.6 million 


The Saratoga County Cultural Index also included the results of a Pulse Survey that showed strong optimism for the future of arts and culture in Saratoga County. Of nearly 30 arts and cultural leaders that responded, 88 percent described themselves as either very optimistic or optimistic about the future. In addition, 96 percent strongly agreed or agreed with building community partnerships to support economic development, and 85 percent strongly agreed or agreed with encouraging entrepreneurship by offering incentives for those in creative industries to relocate to the area. Meanwhile, 96 percent strongly agreed or agreed that there are arts, cultural, historical and creative places and activities in Saratoga County that are still not widely known.

Following the presentation of the index, leaders of a number of prominent arts and cultural institutions in Saratoga County participated in a panel discussion. They included Elizabeth Sobol, President of Saratoga Performing Arts Center; Teddy Foster, Campaign Director for Universal Preservation Hall; Maureen Sager, Project Director for the Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy; and Joel Reed, Executive Director of the Saratoga Arts Council.

“Saratoga County is fortunate to offer outstanding arts and cultural programs and venues that serve our residents and bring visitors into our community,” said Kevin Hedley, Chairman of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. “The impact they generate is critical not only to our quality of life, but also to our economic well being.”

The Presenting Sponsor of the event was Adirondack Trust Company; the Silver Sponsor was Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP; and the Bronze Sponsor was C.T. Male Associates.

Were you SEEN at the Arts + Cultural Index Luncheon? Click here to view the photo gallery! 

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Video – Marty Vanags + Charles Wait, Chairman of the board at Adirondack Trust talk Arts + Culture

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Media Coverage

Prosperity Partnership index shines light on economic impact of arts, culture, 6.13.18, Daily Gazette

Study: Arts and culture drive creative economy in Saratoga, 6.13.18, Times Union

Report: Arts And Culture Generate $80 Million Annually In Saratoga County, 6.13.18, WAMC

Study: Saratoga County biggest contributor to region’s arts economy, 6.13.18, Saratogian

Arts and Culture Generate $80 Million per Year for Saratoga County, 6.14.18, Times Union Saratoga Blog