To many tourism marketing professionals, the value local arts organizations bring to your destinations seems obvious.
They give your visitors something to do besides eat and shop. They can also give your destination a real point of difference.
If that’s the case, why do so many CVBs and tourism boards refuse to put their money where their mouths are, and support local arts organizations with their budget allocations?
It comes down to money. Many CVBs and tourism boards are stretched thin, and arts organizations are an easy mark.
Because they can’t always demonstrate how they’ve driven incremental dollars or visitors to their destinations.
For years, that was the case with arts organizations in Florida’s Polk County .
But recently the Polk County Tourist Development Council voted to funnel 15% of tourism tax money towards arts organizations, for a total of $410,000 during the current fiscal year.
It appears that Polk County officials finally got the message that visitors don’t just come for shopping, dining and attractions. But it didn’t happen by chance.
Last year, the Polk County Arts Alliance, a non-profit coalition of 40 local arts organizations led a push to restore funding. The group cited 6 other Florida counties that have a similar ordinance.
But the group installed a plan to make the arts organizations more accountable to their charter.
They now offer reimbursements to arts groups that can demonstrate their events bring tourists to the area.
They also require arts groups to provide a metric they can use to measure the economic effect their organization is having on tourism spending.
The Polk County measure is something every tourism marketing professional can learn from.
It’s a way to keep our local arts communities vibrant for visitors and locals. And accountable for doing their part to bring in incremental visits.
What role do the arts play in your marketing plan? What’s working and not working with that plan? Share your experience with us.