Frequently Asked Questions - Local Arts Network

Americans for the Arts offers partnership workshops as part of our arts & civic engagement training through our Animating Democracy program.
During our workshops, participants use a worksheet to assess a current collaboration of the partnership and then discuss in small groups.  They develop a template for assessing the dynamics of their partnerships, including written memos of agreement when appropriate. Additionally, our Animating Democracy department facilitates partnerships with leaders in the arts administration field.

Below are a few resources derived from these workshops on partnerships and collaboration.

  1. Collaborative Workshop Powerpoint - This powerpoint outlines the structural framework of our collaborative workshops. It covers the different types of art partnerships and projects, as well as information on what makes collaboration successful and challenging.
  1. Partnership Handout - Our partnership handout, excepted from the Arts & Civic Engagement Tool Kit, prompts participants to answer critical questions regarding the goals and barriers in your partnership, as well as additional information on what it takes to make a partnerships work.
  1. Liz Lerman Exercise - This group exercise is from Liz Lerman Dance Exchange Study. The exercises involve leading and following exercises as well as role reversal to generate partnership applications.

There are several different types of granting programs found at local arts agencies. Click on the types below for more information.

  • General Operating Support (GOS) Grants
  • Project Grants
  • Discretionary Grants
  • Artist Grants/Fellowships

Click here for more information.


Local arts agencies can manage a variety of different types of facilities: performing arts facilities, exhibition/gallery spaces, museums, art incubators, and multi-use facilities. Read more about these types of facilities.

Cultural planning is a public process in which representatives of a community undertake a comprehensive community assessment and create a plan of implementation for future cultural programming. Read more about cultural planning and how to get started.

Read all about types of cultural plans and successful city and community cultural plans on our Culture and Communities page.

Here are some steps you can take if the budget axe is coming your way:

In addition to crowded council chambers and personal communiqués to key government officials, get your community leaders (e.g., business executives, school administrators, community foundation) to testify at hearings, make personal calls, or publish an op-ed in the newspaper. Their voices lend credibility and weight to your cause.

  1. Mobilize Your Supporters
    If you are facing a government cut in funding, you need to galvanize the troops. If you can get a big showing at the city council meeting, it sends the message that a cut in arts funding will not come without noise and push-back from the community. Cuts are easiest to make when it is perceived that there are no consequences—the "low-hanging fruit" for legislators in tight budget times. It is imperative that the elected leaders hear from their constituents.
  2. Make Your Voice Heard

    • Hold face-to-face meetings
    • Send letters, faxes, e-mails
    • Make phone calls
    • Host special events and town hall meetings
    • Get the message out in print and electronic news media
    • Build coalitions and partnerships
    • Testify at hearings
  3. Identify Key Messengers In addition to crowded council chambers and personal communiqués to key government officials, get your community leaders (e.g., business executives, school administrators, community foundation) to testify at hearings, make personal calls, or publish an op-ed in the newspaper. Their voices lend credibility and weight to your cause.
  4. Determine Your Key Messages
  5. You have many options about which case making strategies to lead with: quality of life, economic impact, tourism, education, and workforce and business development. You are in the strongest position if you can speak nimbly about as many benefits that the arts bring to the community as possible. In challenging times like these, you want your quiver packed with arrows. Check out our Research page for helpful tools.

In 2013, Americans for the Arts released The Local Arts Agency Salaries 2013 research report that benchmarks the vast and varied compensation practices of the local arts field in America today. As the previous iteration of this report did when it was published in 2001, the 2013 report assists LAA executives and employees in evaluating staffing and salary levels, setting pay rates, determining incremental compensation adjustments, and better understanding the varied benefit options and structures currently at play in the field. Get the report.

Americans for the Arts does have an unpublished list of consultants. If you are interested in receiving the list, please contact us at [email protected].

The Research Department at Americans for the Arts has released four Arts and Economic Prosperity reports to-date that contain powerful statistics to help public and private-sector leaders understand the economic and social benefits that the arts bring to their communities, states, and the nation. Our Research Department also conducts customized economic research reports for specific communities and organizations. For more information, visit the Research page or contact them at [email protected].

The arts create jobs and contribute to the economy. America’s nonprofit arts and culture industry represent a $135.2 billion dollar industry, serving as an economic driver by supporting jobs, generating government revenue, and providing the cornerstone of our tourism industries. Unlike other industries, arts and culture events leverage a significant amount of events-related spending by their audiences. Moreover, nonprofit arts and culture organizations are good business citizens: they are employers, producers, consumers, members of their Chamber of Commerce, and partners in the marketing and promotion of their cities and regions. This spending directly supports professionals and industries far beyond the creative sector. Thus, many communities are using the arts as an economic development strategy.

We compiled a list of resources to highlight how communities can use art to develop their economy.

Arts & Economic Prosperity Study IV
Arts & Economic Prosperity IV is our fourth study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry’s impact on the economy. The most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted, it uses findings from 182 regions and all 50 states to give a quantifiable economic impact of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences.

Creative Industries : Business & Employment in the Arts
Our Creative Industries study provides a research-based approach to understanding the scope and importance of the arts to the nation’s economy.  A unique representation of both the nonprofit and for-profit businesses involved in the creation or distribution of the arts, this study offers detailed reports comparing the findings for the 50 U.S. states, the 100 most populated U.S. cities and counties, and all 435 U.S. congressional districts.

Proving the Economic Power of Local Arts Agencies
Americans for the Arts hosted an ARTSblog salon on the economic value of local arts agencies. Over 20 bloggers posted specific examples of how the arts propelled business in their communities.

Here are some external resources on the arts’ role in economic development:

The Arts Mean Business
Published by the International City/ County Management Association (ICMA) and written by Robert Lynch, this article is the first in series on the value of nonprofit arts and culture organizations.

Arts Mean Economic Revitalization
Published by the International City/ County Management Association (ICMA) and written by Robert Lynch, this article is the second of a series of three, explaining how arts patrons give strong support to local businesses.

The Arts are Definitely Good for Business
Published by the International City/ County Management Association (ICMA) and written by Robert Lynch, this is the final article in a three-part series on the value of nonprofit arts and culture organizations to local governments.

International Example

While Americans for the Arts does not produce reports on international economic development strategies, here is an example from the Auckland Council on how the City of Auckland is using the arts to develop its economy:  

Auckland Economic Development Strategy Report
Auckland highlights five key economic development strategies to achieve their economic targets over the next 10 years. The report names key achievements, priorities, and innovations to help foster a business friendly, well-functioning city.

The most accurate estimate of an arts facility’s economic impact would be to conduct an individualized economic impact study. This report customizes the specific expenditures of the arts organization, building an economic model for a given community.

We have done several economic impact studies of a single organization. The findings in these cases are of jobs, household income, and government revenue generated to the entire city—not just on the neighborhood and nearby businesses.   

A great way to calculate this is using our Arts and Economic Prosperity Calculator.


Artists’ live/work spaces provide affordable housing and studio space for artists to reside within a community. While may live/ work spaces are created by renovating commercial lofts or warehouses, some local arts agencies offer residency programs for artists.

Artists’ live/ work spaces vary as much as their respective communities, but their common threat is that they provide long-term, affordable space. Americans in the Arts’ 1995 Monograph, Live/Work Space: Housing for Artists in Your Community, examines artists’ housing communities, shatters associated myths, and discusses key facility, financing, and residential topics within each model.

While Americans for the Arts does not publish a database of live/work spaces for artists, we offer a few examples of local arts agencies involved in the development of a local artists live-work space.