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 gives us a quantifiable economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences. Using findings from 182 regions representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, an input-output economic model is able to deliver national estimates.

Quick Facts

Nationally, the industry generated $135.2 billion of economic activity$61.1 billion by the nation's nonprofit arts and culture organizations in addition to $74.1 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This economic activity supports 4.13 million full-time jobs and generates $86.68 billion in resident household income. Our industry also generates $22.3 billion in revenue to local, state, and federal governments every year—a yield well beyond their collective $4 billion in arts allocations. Despite the economic headwinds that our country faced in 2010, the results are impressive.

economic impact infographic


In 2010, nonprofit arts and culture organizations pumped an estimated $61.1 billion into the economy. Nonprofit arts and culture organizations are employers, producers, consumers, and key promoters of their cities and regions. Most of all the are valuable contributors to the business community.


Dinner and a show go hand-in-hand. Attendance at arts events generates income for local businesses—restaurants, parking garages, hotels, retail stores. An average arts attendee spends $24.60 per event, not including the cost of admission. On the national level, these audiences provided $74.1 billion of valuable revenue for local merchants and their communities. 

per person spending infographic   

In addition, to spending data, researchers asked each of the 151,802 survey respondents to provide his/her home ZIP code. Analysis of this data enabled a comparison of even-related spending by local and nonlocal attendees. While the ration of local to nonlocal attendees is different in every community, the national sample revealed that 31.8 percent of attendees traveled from outside of the county in which the event took place and 68.2 percent of attendees were local (resided inside the county).

Local Vs. Nonlocal Audiences Breakdown - 31.85% = Non-Residents, 68.2% = Local

Previous economic and tourism research has shown that nonlocal attendees spend more than their local counterparts and this study reflects those findings. Data shows that nonlocal attendees spent twice as much as local attendees ($39.96 vs. $17.42), demonstrating that when a community attracts cultural tourists, it harnesses significant economic rewards.

Event-Related Spending by Local Vs. Nonlocal Audiences - $17.42 for Local Audiences, $39.96 for Nonlocal Audiences

Arts & Economic Prosperity IV demonstrates that America's arts industry is not only resilient in times of economic uncertainty, but is also a key component to our nation's economic recovery and future prosperity. 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!

Want to know more about this study's findings?

  • Visit our Reports page to learn more about the study and review full data tables and methodology.
  • You can also order printed copies of the full report, summary, and brochure.


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