Leaders say arts make big impact, at a cost - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Leaders say arts make big impact, at a cost


According to a new study, the Wausau area is a hub of arts and culture, but local leaders say it's hard to find the money to keep that going.

The Americans for the Arts study found that in Marathon County, arts and culture is a 9 million dollar industry. Officials at area organizations say it takes a lot to maintain what we have, let alone grow.

"This is money that stays in our community, gets used to pay other people in the community who spend it again," Grand Theater Director Jim O'Connell said of the economic impact of the arts. He said despite that, finding money to keep bringing shows and concerts to the area is a challenge.

"We've got a big gap and we have to fill that gap somehow," he said. That $40,000 dollar gap is filled by Wausau's room tax, but O'Connell isn't the only one relying on that.

"Funding remains a huge challenge," Woodson Art Museum Director Kathy Foley told Newsline 9. "There is never sufficient funding for the arts."

But she said the lines and brushstrokes that make each piece of art filling the gallery, enhance our quality of life.

"And you just never know how an art experience is going to touch someone's heart and someone's soul," she said.

But that doesn't mean it's easy to pay for. The Woodson doesn't charge admission so they have to find money elsewhere. At the grand, the director said ticket and concession sales only cover about half the costs.

That means art leaders have to work harder and ask for more donations to make these forms of entertainment a reality. But they told us it's worth it because helping people enjoy the arts adds to the central Wisconsin experience.




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