Arts are big business, study says

Despite a slight drop in audience spending because of the economic downturn, the nonprofit arts-and-culture industry remains an economic engine that will be a key force in the economy’s recovery, a new study says.

The industry fueled $135.2 billion of economic activity throughout the U.S. in 2010, including $61.1 billion by nonprofit arts-and-culture groups and another $74.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences, says Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, the fourth study by Americans for the Arts of the industry’s economic impact.

That activity supports 4.1 million full-time jobs and generates $22.3 billion a year in revenue to local, state and federal governments, over five-and-half times their combined $4 billion in arts allocations, says the study, which includes customized findings on 182 regions representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In North Carolina, the nonprofit arts-and-culture industry drives $1.2 billion in direct economic activity, supporting the equivalent of over 43,600 full-time jobs and generating $119 million in revenue for local and state governments.

Arts and culture groups are “resilient and entrepreneurial businesses,” the study says. “They employ people locally, purchase goods and services within the community, and market and promote their regions.”

The collapse of the economy “erased the gains made during the pre-recession years” and left 2010 spending on the arts trailing 2005 levels by 3 percent, the study says.

The recession’s biggest impact on the arts was on attendance and audience spending, it says.

“Yet even in a down economy, some communities saw an increase in their arts spending and employment,” it says. “As the economy rebounds, the arts are well poised for growth.”

Arts and culture groups also generate additional event-related spending by audiences that benefits local economies such as for parking, dining and shopping, the study says.

Based on 151,802 audience surveys, the typical person attending an arts event spends $24.60 per person per event in addition to the cost of admission.

And 32 percent of people attending arts events live outside the county in which the event takes place, spending $39.96 related to the event, compared to $17.42 spent by local residents who attend those events.

“A vibrant arts community not only keeps residents and their discretionary spending close to home, but it also attracts visitors who spend money and help local businesses thrive,” the study says.

“America’s arts industry is not only resilient in times of economic uncertainty, but it also a key component to our nation’s economic recovery and future prosperity,” it says. “Business and elected leaders need not feel that a choice must be made between arts funding and economic prosperity. This study proves that they can choose both. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.”

North Carolina counties

The national report includes findings on the economic impact of arts and culture on 17 local communities in North Carolina. Among them:

  • In Mecklenburg County, the arts industry generates nearly $202.8 million in annual economic activity, 6,240 full-time jobs and $18.1 million in revenue for local and state government. The industry also fuels over $101.2 million in event-related spending in the county, with cultural audiences spending $30.72 per person, including $41.58 spent by people from outside the county who attend events in the county, and $23.54 by county residents attending those vents.
  • In Wake County, the arts industry generates $166.2 million in annual economic activity, 6,601 jobs and nearly $15.9 million in revenue for local and state government. The industry also fuels $78.4 million in event-related spending in the county, with cultural audiences spending $17.98 per person, including $36.09 by people from outside the county and $13.43 by county residents.
  • In Forsyth County, the nonprofit arts-and-culture industry fuels nearly $136.6 million in direct economic activity, 4,769 jobs and over $13.7 million in revenue for local and state government. The industry also stimulates over $65.9 million in spending related to arts events in the county, with cultural audiences spending $26.64 per person on costs related to events, including $49.97 spent by people from outside the county who attend events in the county, and $16.15 spent by county residents attending those events.
  • In Guilford County, the arts industry generates over $118 million in direct economic activity, 4,269 jobs and nearly $16.7 million in revenue for local and state government. The industry also fuels over $71.7 million in event-related spending in the county, with cultural audiences spending $19.45 per person, including $27.87 spent by people from outside the county who attend events in the county, and $16.43 spent by county residents attending those events.
  • In Durham County, the arts industry generates $125.5 million in annual economic activity, 4,550 jobs and over $11.4 million in revenue for local and state government. The industry also fuels $51.4 million in event-related spending, with cultural audiences spending $28.16 per person, including $39.33 by people from outside the county, and $14.59 by county residents.

 

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