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The Arts Mean Business: Interpreting Arts & Economic Prosperity IV

Posted by Marisa Muller
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During the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV launch last Friday, Randy Cohen announced the findings of American’s for the Arts fourth economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences. As the most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted, Arts & Economic Prosperity IVdocuments the quantifiable economic impact of 9,721 nonprofit arts and culture organizations and 151,802 of their attendees in 182 study regions, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

 

In revealing the results of this extremely thorough study, Randy stated, “The arts mean business,” and he could not have been more on target. According to Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $135.2 billion of economic activity, which breaks down to $61.1 billion in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations, plus an additional $74.1 billion in event related spending. In addition to generating economic activity, the arts and culture industry also supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue.

 

Arts & Economic Prosperity IV also showed that arts audience members spent on average $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission in 2010. Additionally, the data revealed that arts tourists stay longer and spend more than the average traveler. Among those audience members surveyed, 32 percent live outside the county in which the art event took place and their event- related spending is more than twice that of their local counterparts ($39.96 vs. $17.42).

 

Even in the face of the recession, Arts & Economic Prosperity IV revealed that the arts have remained resilient. The 2010 expenditures by arts organizations were just three percent behind their 2005 levels ($61.1 billion vs. $63.1 billion). Although there was an 11 percent drop in spending by the typical arts patron from 2005 to 2010, it is still evident that communities that draw cultural tourists experience an additional boost of economic activity that continues to fuel local economic engines.

 

“As all budgets—local and national, public and private—continue to reel from the effects of the economic downturn, some may perceive the arts as an unaffordable luxury reserved for only the most prosperous times,” says Jonathan Spector, President & CEO of The Conference Board. “Fortunately, this rigorous report offers evidence that the nonprofit arts industry provides not just cultural benefits to our communities, but also makes significant positive economic contributions to the nation’s financial well being regardless of the overall state of the economy. This certainly is something to applaud.”

 

By focusing on the quantitative economic impact of the arts, Arts & Economic Prosperity IV elucidates the connection between the arts and the economy and validates the arts as a resilient industry with cultural and economic benefits.

 

"Many businesses support the arts across the country because they intuitively understand that the arts matter,” says Stephen Jordan, Executive Director of the Business Civic Leadership Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It is great to get the facts and a clearer understanding of the links between the arts and economic prosperity."

 

This study compels nonprofits, businesses, and government officials to consider the arts and culture industry as a job creator and an economic stimulator.  By prompting a reevaluation of the arts, Arts & Economic Prosperity IV can be an extremely useful tool in attracting arts advocates and developing stronger, more meaningful partnerships across sectors.

 

Janet Brown, the Executive Director of Grantmakers in the Arts notes, “Americans for the Arts continues to develop the tools for arts advocates and the evidence to persuade decision-makers that the arts benefit all people in all communities.”
 

For more information on Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, including information on downloading and purchasing all study reports, please visit www.AmericansForTheArts.org/EconomicImpact.

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