A lovely courtyard event in LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in DTLA on Tuesday morning wrapped up just ahead of the start of no fewer than three May Day marches converging on nearby City Hall. Rain threatened, and eventually arrived, but a team of leadership, city and fiscal sponsors, media and interested institutional parties gathered to release and assess the Economic Impact Analysis on 2017’s Pacific Standard Time LA/LA Initiative. Spoiler alert: The city did very well.
The full report is available online now, but the takeaway is that PST’s second full edition (there was a sort of mezzo initiative focused on midcentury architecture) was a boon to both the region’s cultural IQ and its bottom line. There were increases in all the economic segment categories that were examined, compared with the already-huge success of the first PST in 2012, which focused art historical scholarship on the creative communities working in L.A. between 1945 and 1980. Unlike that debut, this sequel did not take up a chronology but rather a cross-section, examining the historical and ongoing influence and foundational presence of Latin American and Latino art and artists in L.A.’s unique cultural character.
Getty Trust president and CEO James Cuno called this iteration “wildly ambitious,” saying it “surpassed our wildest expectations,” and highlighting its legacy of ongoing programming in galleries and museums from Santa Barbara to San Diego, Palm Springs to Santa Monica. This is not only a result of venues noting a marked uptick in audience interest but also of the personal and professional curatorial inspiration the program widely imparted.
Some quick numbers: The Getty released $16.3 million in grants to 70-plus institutions, in addition to the acknowledgement of countless galleries and unofficial ancillary shows and programs. The project drew some 2.8 million visitors total, fully one-third of them from out of state or international locations; a quarter of these visitors said they sought out those places only because of PST, and often for the first time. Including the $53.1 million spent by participants to produce the programs, and the $192.6 million spent by tourists, some $430.3 million changed hands locally (what the report calls “economic output”) in the course of planning and implementing PST: LA/LA.
A smaller but no less important number is the $24.3 million in tax revenue, a function based on direct expenditures, audience expenditures and other “multiplier effects” measured as part of this study, such as food and lodging for visitors and income/employment for suppliers and contractors. As Dr. Somjita Mitra from the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) said from the podium, PST’s broadly regional impact “was not only in and of itself a public service, it contributed to supporting public services.”
As for the status of the next one — because yes, there will be a next one — Cuno did say that emissaries from the Getty, LACMA, MOCA and the Hammer are already talking about early planning. A few very solid ideas were batted around after the presentation, between one last coffee and the rain beginning in earnest. But sorry to say, they’re still off the record — for now.