Arts Economy Is Robust, Report Finds

The nonprofit arts and culture industry in the United States is economically robust and has a significant national impact, a new report from Americans for the Arts finds.

The report, Arts and Economic Prosperity III (summary, 24 pages, PDF), found that the nation's nonprofit arts and culture industry has grown steadily, expanding at a rate greater than inflation, since 1992, when the organization conducted its first analysis of the sector. Moreover, between 2000 and 2005, spending by arts organizations and their audiences grew 24 percent, from $134 billion to 166.2 billion in total economic activity, with arts organizations spending $63.1 billion and their audiences spending an additional $103.1 billion in event-related activities.

That activity translated to 5.7 million full-time-equivalent jobs, $104.2 billion in resident household income, and billions in local, state, and federal tax revenues. The study also found that arts organizations provide rewarding employment for a wide range of professionals and trades, from artists, curators and musicians, to builders, plumbers, and printers.

The report, which was conducted with help from economists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and funded by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts, documents the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in 156 communities and regions (116 cities and counties, 35 multi-county regions, and five states), representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The communities range in population (from 4,000 to three million, as well as type (rural to urban). Researchers collected detailed expenditure and attendance data from 6,080 nonprofit arts and culture organizations and 94,478 of their attendees to measure total industry spending.

"This study is a myth buster," said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. "Most Americans understand that the arts improve our quality of life. This study demonstrates that the arts are an industry that stimulates the economy in cities and towns across the country. A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive."