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Chicago and its Theaters: Municipal investment, Commercial Appreciation, and Neighborhood Dynamics

Authors: Muriel Marseille*,
Topics: Economic Geography, Urban Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: cultural industry, agglomeration, investment, TIF, neighborhood dynamics
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In a 2018 economic analysis, the U. S. Department of Commerce reported that the gross output for the Arts, Entertainment, Recreation, Accommodation, and food services industry reached $1,486.5 billion nationally. This industry’s contribution to the U.S. G.D.P. in 2018 was 4.3%.
The significance of this industry’s contribution can be measured at the nation level and at the city level. In Chicago, for example, cultural industries contribute $2.25 billion to its GDP. This industry supports over 60 thousand jobs and creates approximately $214.0 million in local and state government revenue. Nonprofit arts and culture organizations themselves spend $1.21 billion annually while their audiences spend $989.8 million on those arts-oriented services.
Many of the studies that focus on the impact of cultural industries in Chicago and their agglomerate like effects have been based on entertainment organizations in the Central Business District. Neighborhood arts and culture organizations have been rarely studied to determine impact on economic affect and influence on neighborhood dynamics.
This research investigates neighborhood cultural organizations, namely theaters and revitalized theater spaces at the local level. Specifically, it explores:
• municipal investment in community level arts organizations
• the impacts of theater revitalization on the local economy
• the neighborhood conditions that most favorably encourage theater revitalization/arts organizations
Neighborhood theaters have been an important part of the fabric of Chicago’s culture through the 20th century. This was due in part to theater consumption at the neighborhood level. This study seeks to measure its effect on 21st Chicago.

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