The benefits of this type of public support are numerous and far-reaching, according to a 2010 Norman Arts Council Economic Impact Study:
· Annual combined estimated audiences from all arts activities: 974,000
· Regional marketing audiences for Norman arts programs /events: 1.4 million
· Funds matching NAC hotel-motel grant funds: $1.2 million
· Jobs created: 250 (full/part time)
· Artists presented at Norman programs/events: 2,000
Even more benefit can be found in Norman’s diverse and successful festivals. The Medieval Fair, the Norman Music Festival, May Fair, Jazz in June, Groovefest and the Midsummer Night Fair attract tens of thousands of visitors each year. The Medieval Fair alone attracts an audience of more than 350,000, with Jazz in June and the Norman Music Festival attracting well over 50,000 each.
Thousands of these audience members are visitors from other communities, the state and even the nation. These visitors enrich our local economy and sales tax base with their purchases while in our community.
So, to summarize, the Norman Hotel/Motel Tax Grant Fund — derived from a tax paid by visitors to local hotels — distributes grants to more than two dozen arts organizations that produce programming and events for almost one million people annually. These activities not only enrich the culture of our community but have a substantial, positive economic impact as well.
It stands as a tribute to the visionaries who created this funding 33 years ago, funding that has been of benefit to our community in so many ways over those decades.
Your “yes” vote to increase the hotel-motel tax to 5 percent will provide more funding for the arts of our community to continue their good works.
Norman H. Hammon is the director of development for Jazz in June, as well as a freelance writer based in Norman. In 1980, he was a young arts administrator who worked in the campaign for the passage of the hotel-motel tax. In 1981-1982, while serving on the Norman City Council, he witnessed the first appropriations of these funds and he was a founding member of the Norman Arts Roundtable.