In its latest study of how arts, culture and scientific nonprofits affect the local economy, ArtsFund found that volunteers for these groups logged 1.18 million hours of work in the region, the equivalent of millions of dollars in payroll.

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To hear Sarah Sidman at ArtsFund tell it, volunteers make the world go ’round.

In its latest study of how arts, culture and scientific nonprofits impact the economy, ArtsFund, a local nonprofit that raises money and advocates for the arts, reveals that volunteer work accounted for 1.18 million hours of work logged in the Central Puget Sound area, done by about 29,000 volunteers. That averaged out to 41 hours a person per year.

In dollars and cents: Those hours are worth megabucks.

Fast Facts: ArtsFund Economic Impact Study

ArtsFund polled 313 nonprofit arts, cultural and scientific organizations and 3,500 patrons in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties about income and expenditures in fiscal year 2014. Findings from the survey:

$2.4 billion: the amount nonprofit cultural organizations and their patrons in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties generated in the Washington State economy

$512.9 million: total income of arts/cultural groups surveyed

$496.4 million: total expenditures

$105 million: total tax revenue generated

$694 million: spent by patrons on tickets, dining out, lodging and other expenses related to an event

13.4 million: annual admissions to these attractions in 2014

35,376: jobs in the Washington economy related to arts, cultural and scientific organizations

80 percent: share of the jobs that are either part time or contractual positions

A separate study in 2014 by Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofits, grantmakers and foundations, estimated that in Washington state, each volunteer hour is worth $27.54; that’s a value of $32 million. Those ticket takers, ushers and others working behind the scenes are one of the main reasons the show goes on, whether it’s at the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Opera or your local neighborhood theater.

There’s a “delicate balance between income and expenses” in most of these organizations, said Sidman, ArtsFund’s communications director. Unlike other industries where costs can be cut through smarter budgeting or in finding more efficient ways to do things, in the arts there is just one way to do things: “You can’t play the symphony faster or do a ballet with half the performers,” Sidman said.

A volunteer can do just about anything, from answering phones, to singing (for Flying House’s Seattle Men’s and Seattle Women’s choruses, for instance), to creating broadsides, posterlike displays of poems written by patients at Seattle Children’s hospital and making centerpieces and floral arrangements for events (both done by Seattle Arts and Lectures volunteers).

At the Seattle Aquarium — which used almost 1,300 volunteers in 2014, volunteering more than 100,000 hours (estimated value: $2.2 million) — 90 of the volunteers are divers.

Working at the aquarium allows diving volunteer Jon Kroman, 62, a lawyer and legal consultant, a chance to satisfy his scuba-diving itch on a twice-monthly basis. A volunteer for nearly nine years, Kroman dives every Wednesday morning for three hours; he’s part of the morning show in the main exhibit, Window on Washington Waters.

During his stint, he cleans the aquarium, feeds the fish and talks to visitors about the exhibit. The volunteers at the aquarium, he explained “are basically scuba nuts. There’s a fairly active cold-water diving community here.

“It’s always fun. It really is. The only time I miss a shift is if I am out of town, there’s a serious work conflict or I’m sick.”

The Seattle International Film Festival also famously boasts a large number of volunteers. During the festival months this year — April through June — 682 volunteers donated 16,014 hours of time. “They are the face of SIFF,” said Lisa Brown, the volunteer coordinator.

Brown (who started out as a volunteer herself) said, “They allow us to meet our mission. Without volunteers we would not have anywhere near the capacity to launch 25 days at nine different venues.”

While the majority of volunteers during the festival are working at the venues — handing out and taking ballots, scanning tickets, organizing lines — a select few are chosen to work in guest relations, responsible for shuttling guests back and forth between venues, including the celebrity actors and directors. Brown called that job “probably one of the most glamorous.”

In exchange, whether they do the glamorous or dirty work, volunteers get a ticket for every two hours of service.

The rest of the year, the nonprofit relies on a smaller group of regular volunteers who commit to a four or four-and-a half-hour shift on the same day of the week for six months. For that they receive a festival pass.

But, said Brown, the real value is intangible. “They always talk about how much they enjoy working with other people who are into cinema,” she said.

Volunteers are so exalted at SIFF, there’s even an award named after one of their best: the Eric Sorlien Award for Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.

Sorlien, who has been volunteering with SIFF for “11 or 12 years,” started volunteering a lot more when he was laid off from his job at Washington Mutual during the financial crisis.

Still underemployed, he volunteers at SIFF as well as at the Seattle Public Library, Goodwill and the Woodland Park Zoo, among other organizations.

But for all his involvement in SIFF, Sorlien isn’t really a movie buff. “I just enjoy the people,” he said. “To hear them get excited about the different stories being told, it’s really engaging for me to talk to the people — almost more than watching the movie.”