From the Blue Star to the Symphony, the arts are now a $4.3 billion annual economic generator in metro San Antonio, employing 29,000 people with an annual payroll of more than $1.2 billion, according to figures released by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Steve Nivin, a professor of economics at St. Mary's University and the Hispanic Chamber's chief economist, says the impact of the arts on the local economy is growing exponentially.
"If we are going to continue to grow as an overall economy, we have to continue to grow the arts and the creative industry," he said.
The 'arts' include traditional artistic endeavors like the San Antonio Symphony, the ballet and opera, and organizations like the Pace Foundation. But they also include the Witte Museum, arts teachers at local schools, and have now included to include professions like web designers.
Boosting what is called the 'creative class' has been a priority for Mayor Julian Castro, and Nivin says that is for a good reason. He says the movement of peoples has changed dramatically since the end of the recession.
"People these days are moving to where they want to live, rather than moving to where they want to live, as opposed to moving where there is a job, and the employers more and more are following the people," he said.
He says the key to making San Antonio an attractive place for the millennials who have begun providing a buzz to places like SouthTown and the Pearl Brewery area on Lower Broadway is to support a thriving arts scene in San Antonio.
Experts tell the Hispanic Chamber that the 'creative class' is no longer a luxury. They say the young workers of today require a vibrant arts community in their employment and job location decisions.
Local business development officials point out that the very first question that representatives of Toyota asked when they were considering building a $1.2 billion truck plant in San Antonio was not how much land was available or how much in incentives the city could offer. The first question was, "do you have a symphony orchestra."