The Crowd: Nonprofits help keep O.C. employed

Were you aware that the nonprofit arts sector is one of the top 25 largest non-governmental employers in Orange County?

In fact, the nonprofit arts sector ranks as the 23rd employer in the community, according to the 2010 Economic Impact of the Nonprofit Arts Report presented recently by James L. Doti, president of Chapman University.

The Center Club, Costa Mesa, hosted a morning presentation of the Economic Report by Doti to a full boardroom of executives representing not only the nonprofit sector but also other important business interests in the county, including banking, retail, tourism, finance and manufacturing.

Prepared by the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University's Argyros School of Business under the direction of Esmael Adibi, working in conjunction with Betty R. Moss, founding executive director, recently retired from the Orange County Business Committee for the Arts Inc.

The tone of Doti's address was upbeat, yet realistic, acknowledging the current difficult times. Doti, a noted economist, attributed his optimistic view to both the diversity and vibrancy of the Orange County region overall and the percentage of the population committed to supporting the arts through a variety of avenues.

Doti told the crowd that despite recessionary times Orange County remains one of the most philanthropic regions in the nation. And even though there has been a decline in revenue in some sectors of the nonprofit arts community, attendance is in fact rising, and revenues remain mostly positive even in the face of lower ticket prices to arts events and a more challenging climate for securing development funds from the philanthropic community at large.

Nonprofits arts organizations in 2009 employed a total of 3,624 paid positions. In addition, volunteers contributed almost 786,000 hours roughly equivalent to 380 full time paid jobs. Some 560 Orange County citizens served either as directors or trustees of nonprofit arts organizations. And, of the 2.4 million total tallied admissions to arts related events, 27% or 521,500 were free admissions, mostly to young children and students.

Finally, the total economic impact of 26 local nonprofit arts organizations participating in the study came to $483.8 million; this includes secondary spending related to the arts including dining and vendor purchases. Compared with the figures offered in the previous economic study out in 2006, and despite the tough economic circumstances, paid admissions to arts events increased on an average of 2.8% each year for a total increase of 11.6% over a four year period.


One of Newport-Mesa's small but passionate arts organizations known as the Hutchins Consort produced "Novemberfest" held at the Old World Village, Huntington Beach. About 140 guests came together for the recent Sunday family gathering, which opened with dachshund races, children's activities and a Christmas market filled with wonderful handcrafted items made by Barbara Woods of Balboa Island. Also contributing to the fantasy shopping experience was Margaret Gates, whose designs delighted the crowd.

Meanwhile the Hutchins Consort, a musical group performing on eight acoustically matched violins, designed and crafted by the late Carleen Hutchins, performed in Bavarian attire. The group offered selections from Bach to Steffen to fold music and more contemporary German inspired popular music.

Front and center for the performance and the event was founder of the group Joe McNalley and his dedicated mother, Sharon McNalley of Corona del Mar. Gail Hutton, chaired the event with support from RuthAnn and Robert Burns, Susan Quaundah, Fatma Elsherbiny, Lesley Boyer and Woods.

Following the concert, guests dined on a traditional Bavarian buffet featuring fabulous German specialties, including the ultimate apple strudel. Spotted in the crowd were Beverly and Bob White, Caroline Miller, Barbara Martin, Harriet Gugginheim, Dixon Shaffer, Marjorie Ringwalt, the Dr. Roger Thomas family, and the Dr. Vahe Meghrouni family, just to name a few.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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