Why the Arts Matter to Economic Recovery
Somebody just left a comment – using a pseudonym – asking how funding the arts or appointing a “secretary of culture” would help America. Basically this person thinks that it is a complete and total waste of time. Well, actually, there are numbers that substantiate the fact that the arts and culture sector is a significant economic engine for growth.
Americans for the Arts published Arts & Economic Prosperity III: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences which documents the key role played by the nonprofit arts and culture industry in strengthening our nation’s economy. This study demonstrates that the nonprofit arts and culture industry is an economic driver in communities—a growth industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is the cornerstone of tourism.
There are approximately 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations (ranging from large arts institutions like museums and orchestras to small community-based organizations in suburban, urban and rural areas) in the country. Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year—$63.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences. The study is the most comprehensive study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted. It documents the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in 156 communities and regions (116 cities and counties, 35 multicounty regions, and five states), and represents all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The $166.2 billion in total economic activity has a significant national impact, generating the following:
5.7 million full-time equivalent jobs
$104.2 billion in household income
$7.9 billion in local government tax revenues
$9.1 billion in state government tax revenues
$12.6 billion in federal income tax revenues
In a report released in mid-January 2009, the National Governor’s Association stated, “Arts and culture are important to state economies. Arts and culture-related industries, also known as “creative industries,” provide direct economic benefits to states and communities: They create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues, and stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases.”
So, um, actually, investing in arts & culture is not only enriching, educational, enlightening and good for the community – it is also economically significant and smart.