By Paul Hoverman
By Paul Hoverman
Today, the Niswonger Performing Arts Center hosted a presentation by Drs. Katerina Ruedi Ray and Michael Carroll of Bowling Green State University. They are both part of the NWOAX (Northwest Ohio Arts Exchange) and were commissioned to study the effect of the arts on the economy of Northwest Ohio. Hope Wallace, executive director of Wassenberg Art Center in Van Wert organized the presentation as part of the Van Wert Rotary Club noon meeting.

The findings of the study were rather revealing. Would you believe that the arts are responsible for $2.4 billion of the economy of Northwest Ohio? 33,426 jobs are created and sustained by the arts. The arts bring in $97 million in state and local tax revenue and nearly $151 million in federal tax revenue! That's BIG business any way you look at it.

We in Van Wert County do our part. Although the study did not specifically break down county by county, we do know that, although Van Wert County is not one of the most populated counties in the state, we certainly do offer much in the area of culture and arts. Think for a moment about Van Wert County. We have a little under 30,000 citizens; just fewer than 11,000 in the city.

For the relatively small number of people, Van Wert County offers Van Wert Civic Theatre, Wassenberg Art Center, Niswonger Performing Arts Center, a thriving summer concert series in Fountain Park, Off-Stage Dinner Theatre, the Arts Factory located in the Main Street office building, several other local art studios, and probably many others you could name. Culturally, we offer the beautiful Brumback Library and the Historical Museum and many festivals throughout the county and in the villages of Van Wert County.

The study was actually completed in 2007 and they are hoping for Ohio Arts Council funding to do a more recent study this year. The Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio opened in March of 2007; so much of its affect on our local economy would not have yet taken effect. We do know that since 2007, the NPAC has grown from 11 professional concerts/shows to 29. This represents a growth of patrons from 9,526 in 2007 to 23,925 in 2012.

I realize that many are repeat patrons, but in 2007, 29 percent of our ticket buyers were from outside Van Wert County. By 2012, 55 percent were from outside the county. As many as 20 different states in the US were represented by ticket buyers at the NPAC.

The mission statement of the The Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation is "To provide a premier venue for a wide variety of performing arts, concerts, lectures, meetings, and special events which will inspire, educate, and entertain residents of, and visitors to Van Wert County; and to provide an economic catalyst by increasing cultural tourism, creating new jobs and generating business for the region." This is provided mainly through the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. We continue to be driven by this mission that Scott Niswonger challenged us with nearly ten years ago.

We also continue to provide new and fresh shows, concerts and entertainment for local residents and visitors who patronize the NPAC. Coming up this weekend is the Community Health Professionals "Ohio Has Talent" show on Saturday. The fun starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are available at the box office and the day of the show. The box office opens one hour prior to the start of the show.

The next week is another big one as we draw closer to Valentine's Day. Christopher Cross, singer and songwriter of some of the most loved songs of our time such as, "Ride like the Wind", "Sailing", and "Arthur's Theme" will bring his band for an exciting evening on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available! Then on Saturday, Feb. 16, the amazing Cirque Ziva! sets up on stage for two performances at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

You just have to see the "out-of-this-world" theatricals this show has to offer. You will quite simply be amazed! Get your tickets now and remember, you can order on-line and on facebook or at the door. Be part of the excitement at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center where you get to meet the world! FINE