WBUR in Boston reports on Mass MoCA’s role as economic engine to North Adams, Massachusetts and the overall value of an art museum for the health of a community:
One study measuring Mass MoCA’s economic impact found an increase in the number of jobs since it opened, along with higher property values and tax revenue. It’s pumping $14 million a year into area hotels, restaurants and shops. After a decade of operating in the red, Director Joe Thompson says Mass MoCA is seeing more than 110,000 visitors annually, and the museum is finally making money. […] Michael Supranowitcz, President and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, says visitors like Weisend have helped transform downtown North Adams. “It was very, very bad up here before MoCA moved in. Now, he admits, “Yes, everything is not successful,” but, “what’s great is, when one restaurant fails, someone else is in their spot within a year.”
Supranowitcz says Mass MoCA is living up to his expectations, but small business owner Vinny Patel doesn’t agree. “I’m expecting more, put it that way,” he says as a customer leaves his Corner Market convenience store, which is walking distance from the museum.
Patel questions Mass MoCA’s impact, saying, “It’s just same routine life, I still see my regular customers here. It has to grow, it’s just not enough for the town.”
Patel is not alone in his thinking. In fact, what has been called the “Mass MoCA effect” has fueled a political debate between the current mayor of North Adams and his opponent. The mayor holds it up as a success story while his adversary warns the town should not put all its eggs in the Mass MoCA basket.