GRAM Impact: $17M-Plus

July 17, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Last week the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) announced the results of its Deloitte & Touche economic impact study.

The study projects 250,000 patrons will visit the new Art Museum in the first year of operation and generate $17 million to $28 million each year in sales revenue and anticipated spending outside the facility.

The Deloitte & Touche study considered sales, earnings, employment and construction of the new facility planned for the Monroe Center site as well as the impact that the cultural attraction will have on the surrounding business community. They study projects an 85 percent increase above current annual GRAM attendance.

The study concluded that construction of the 100,000-square-foot facility would generate 650 jobs throughout the construction period of 2004-2006. Once open projections show the new Art Museum will create 200 full-time jobs.

“The jobs and revenue from the new museum will be a tremendous boost to our local economy. The $50-55 million in construction costs alone are expected to have more than a $100 million economic impact on the Grand Rapids area,” said Birgit Klohs, president of The Right Place Inc.

“Nationally, nonprofit arts organizations bring in about $134 billion annually and employ nearly five million full-time workers. When patrons visit these institutions, they are responsible for generating another $81 billion in revenue each year for restaurants, retail operations, hotels and other local businesses. We expect a strong ripple effect when the new Art Museum opens its doors in 2006.”

The Deloitte & Touche study was conducted to heighten awareness in the business and governmental sectors as well as the community at large of the benefits that a premier art museum can provide the local economy and the region.

The study emphasized that community support is essential to GRAM because the organization relies on the private sector for funding.

“In contrast to many similar organizations that depend to one degree or another on public funding, the bulk of GRAM’s revenue comes from private sources,” explained Kate Pew Wolters, GRAM Foundation trustee and campaign committee managing co-chair. “Our current campaign includes a $13 million endowment goal, with a long-term objective of raising $25 million to $40 million for endowment. This money will be invested and the income will be our primary source of operating and maintenance funding, supported by annual membership, foundation and corporate development efforts. A strong, fully-funded endowment will allow GRAM to bring in more exhibitions of international caliber comparable to the ‘2001 Light Screens: The Leaded Glass of Frank Lloyd Wright.’ This exhibition alone drew 64,000 visitors to the museum.”

And while the majority of the funding is planned to come from the public and private sector, Pew Wolters added that the GRAM would still be affected by the state budget cuts in every area.

She is also hoping to use the study when marketing the museum. Pew Wolters noted that the economic findings and impact study will be something she could show potential investors to convince them to give.

“I will be able to show, with concrete numbers, that there will be long term impact, short term impact and also the social and economic impact GRAM will have over time,” said Pew Wolters.           

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