In 2002 the South Carolina Arts Commission contracted the University of South Carolina Division of Research at the Moore School of Business to undertake an Economic Impact Study of the Arts in South Carolina. The report “highlighted the importance of the arts as a viable economic industry across South Carolina…certainly related to the state’s highly touted tourism industry.” The report also stated that “on average in both 2000 and 2001, the arts in South Carolina directly and indirectly supported $700 million in wages and salaries, 30,000 jobs and $1.9 billion in economic output.”
National statistics provided by the Americans for the Arts showed that 85% to 95% of those attending performing arts events dined out or went to lounges either before and/or after performances. An independent study commissioned by CMFA in cooperation with Columbia College, reflected that CMFA activities and events were at the high end of the national statistic. Following 911, Americans in general were vacationing closer to home and exploring their own communities. CMFA and CMFA ArtSpace provide opportunities to experience the rich performing treasures of the community.
Public support from the City of Columbia and Richland County, coupled with grants from the SC Arts Commission, and indirectly the National Endowment for the Arts, together with contributions from businesses and individuals underscore the importance this community places on the arts as catalyst, magnet and enduring hallmark of our civilization. CMFA’s primary funding is generated not only from its governmental partnership, but also from special projects, programs and outreach projects with an educational awareness approach. Contributions from community and business leaders, foundations and individuals provide the supplemental income necessary for Columbia Music Festival Association to continue to function as a vital part of the Midlands of South Carolina.
From 1897, when European artists crossed America on rail, stopping to perform in Columbia’s Opera House on Main Street – the first headquarters for the Columbia Music Festival Association, the coordinating agency for the concerts – to the International Artist Concert Series of the 1930’s through the 1980’s, CMFA brought outstanding performers to South Carolina. South Carolinians, inspired by these artists, wanted more. They wanted Columbia and the Midlands to be the center of the arts as well as of government and education. With the support of local government Columbia Music Festival Association took this leadership role and developed the arts in the community.