The Rubber Duck Project: Destination Pittsburgh!

This article is a guest post by David B. Pankratz, Ph.D., from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

The 40 foot rubber duck floating on the Allegheny river with the city skyline in the background.

Nearly every “Best of” ranking that includes Pittsburgh as a top destination in America cites arts and culture as a key factor.   Maybe that’s why The Rubber Duck Project, the 4 stories high and 3 stories wide creation of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, made Pittsburgh her first landing spot in North America.  She’s here, after all, to launch the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s International Festival of Firsts, a major arts and culture event for the region and beyond.

Or maybe our feathered friend just figured that once this gig was over she’d be able to find another in Greater Pittsburgh, thanks to the many job opportunities our arts and culture sector generates.  If so, good move.

As the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council shows in its recent economic impact study, spending by 140 of Allegheny County’s 350 arts and culture organizations totals $393 million annually, while audiences, including high-spending cultural tourists, add another $317 million.  (As illustration, the Cultural Trust, in the Rubber Duck Project’s first weekend alone, sold 10,000 event-related items—from T-shirts and caps to replicas and posters).

Research also demonstrates that once arts and culture organizations’ spending and their audiences’ dollars ripple through the Greater Pittsburgh economy, they generate 20,550 jobs annually.  And 80% of those jobs are in industries outside the arts.  So, maybe The Rubber Duck Project, if need be, could find work in advertising, hospitality, or real estate.

Of course, our resourceful friend might find jobs in other cities.  But before taking flight she should consider that, overall, our area ranks #1 in jobs created through the arts and culture among benchmark cities.

So, welcome to Pittsburgh, Rubber Duck Project.  Thanks for all the economic impact, among other things.  And we hope you enjoy your visit and, maybe, your stay.