New Study Underscores Impact of the Arts

January 19, 2024 | Festival Boca

An important new study proves the economic impact arts organizations have locally and nationwide.

The recently published American for the Arts AEP6 study shows what we all intuitively know: nonprofit arts and culture organizations in the U.S. are making their communities better places to live and work by beautifying cities, fueling creativity, celebrating diversity, and bringing joy to residents.

But the study also underscores the deep economic impact that nonprofits have. Over 2.6 million Americans are employed in arts nonprofits nationwide, generating over $150 billion in economic activity. Indeed: the nonprofit arts and culture industry is an economic driver in communities – a growth industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and builds community vibrancy.

In Boca Raton, Arts and Culture Organizations spent $16.7 million over the past year, and their audiences spent just over $9 million in the local community, bringing the overall direct economic impact to $25.7 million, just in Boca Raton.

Here are a few of the key takeaways:

Nonprofit arts and culture organizations are businesses. They employ people locally, purchase supplies and services from nearby businesses, and engage in the marketing and promotion of their cities and regions. Their very act of doing business – creating, presenting, exhibiting, engaging – has a positive economic impact and improves community well-being.

Arts and culture drives commerce to local businesses. When people attend a cultural event, they often make an outing of it – dining at a restaurant, paying for parking or public transportation, enjoying dessert after the show, and returning home to pay for child or pet care.

Arts and culture strengthens the visitor economy. One-third (30.1%) of attendees travel from outside the county in which the activity takes place; they spend an average of $60.57, twice that of their local counterparts ($29.77). Three-quarters (77%) of nonlocal attendees reported that the primary purpose of their visit was to attend that cultural event.

A vibrant arts and culture community keeps residents spending locally. When local attendees to nonprofit arts and culture events were asked what they would have done if the event where they were surveyed had not been available, 51% said they would have “traveled to a different community to attend a similar arts or cultural activity.”

Pride in community. 89% of attendees agreed that the activity or venue they were attending was “a source of neighborhood pride for the community.” 86% said they would “feel a sense of loss if that activity or venue was no longer available,” and 86% felt it important that future generations also be able to have that cultural experience.

Arts and culture builds more livable communities. 86% of Americans say, “arts and culture are important to their community’s quality of life and livability,” and 79% of the American public believe that the arts are “important to their community’s businesses, economy, and local jobs.”

Improving personal well-being. 78% of the population say the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world,” 69% of the population believe the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences,” and 71% feel the arts give them “pure pleasure to experience and participate in.”

Building empathy and understanding. 72% of Americans believe, “The arts provide shared experiences with people of different races, ethnicities, ages, beliefs, and identities (gender, political, national origin),” and 73% agree that the arts “helps me understand other cultures better.”

Post-COVID audiences spent more, traveled less. Nationally, per-person, event-related spending increased from $31.47 to $38.44 in the years between AEP5 and AEP6 (2016 and 2022) – a 22% increase, matching the rate of inflation during that period. The percentage of nonlocal attendees (coming from outside the county in which the event took place) decreased from 34% in AEP5 to 30% in AEP6 (-11.5%).

Cultural Council LogoArts sparks creativity and innovation. “Creativity” is among the top five applied skills sought by business leaders—per the Conference Board’s Ready to Innovate report—with 72% saying creativity is of “high importance” when hiring. For the second year in a row, “creativity” tops the list as the #1 soft skill needed in business (LinkedIn).

The local research partner for Americans for the Arts in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County is the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, of which Festival of the Arts Boca is a member.

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