The Positive Power of the Arts

This summer the research and advocacy organization Americans for the Arts has released the report Arts & Economic Prosperity 5: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts & Cultural Organizations & Their Audiences. We know that the arts and cultural resources contribute to community and individual quality of life in a variety of ways; this report demonstrates that they make major economic contributions as well.

Americans for the Arts summarizes the findings this way:

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 is Americans for the Arts’ fifth study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry’s impact on the economy. It documents the economic contributions of the arts in 341 diverse communities and regions across the country, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion of economic activity during 2015—$63.8 billion in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $102.5 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This activity supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in revenue to local, state, and federal governments (a yield well beyond their collective $5 billion in arts allocations).

By every measure, the results are impressive. This study puts to rest a misconception that communities support arts and culture at the expense of local economic development. In fact, communities are investing in an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is the cornerstone of tourism. Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 shows conclusively that, locally as well as nationally, the arts mean business!

The organization’s website provides links to national findings, local and regional findings, and a national map of the study partners. The site is also a great source of materials and guidance for arts advocacy.

“Anyone can advocate for the arts and have an impact,” the site says. “Get involved and start advocating for the arts today!”