Over the past 10 years, Skip Rowley of Rowley Properties in Issaquah has seen the benefits of having a theater in the suburban city's downtown...

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Over the past 10 years, Skip Rowley of Rowley Properties in Issaquah has seen the benefits of having a theater in the suburban city’s downtown.

“Try and get something to eat at one of the restaurants at 7 p.m. if the Village Theatre has a show that night,” Rowley said. “Everything is packed.”

The arts are good for the community, Rowley said, and that’s why his company helps support and contributes to local cultural organizations. It’s a mind-set more companies need to have, he said.

Rowley was among about 150 people representing various cultural organizations and businesses who attended a forum yesterday to discuss the role of business and corporate support for a creative Eastside. The lunchtime event at the Kirkland Performance Center included a presentation on how businesses and cultural organizations benefit each other, and the roles they play to support each other.

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In the past 10 years, cultural organizations on the Eastside have been growing rapidly, said Mary Pat Byrne, arts specialist for the city of Bellevue.

Eastside cultural organizations annually generate more than $60 million in business activity, Byrne told the group. And while these nonprofits earn about 57 percent of their income through tickets sales and concessions, about 43 percent of their budgets come from contributions.

That’s why support from businesses is so important, she said.

“Cultural organizations and businesses are interested in the same thing — a strong community and a quality of life and a great economy,” Byrne said. “I think larger businesses on the Eastside are doing a good job of making contributions. It’s the medium and smaller businesses that are so busy trying to keep their businesses going, it’s hard for them to think of ways to partner with cultural organizations.”

The forum was the brainchild of Metropolitan King County Councilwoman Jane Hague. It was sponsored by 4Culture, formerly the King County Arts Commission, and the Eastside Arts Coalition.

“You don’t have a good community without a good and vital arts presence,” Hague said. “This is how you keep a community vibrant, with new ideas and thoughts. And it’s how you attract and keep residents and new employees.”

Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or rtuinstra@seattletimes.com