Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

June 11, 2007

Arts and culture mean business

The arts and culture are helping to drive economic growth but they still are treated as a step-child when it comes to charitable giving.

As PJ reports, a new study shows the nonprofit arts sector fuels $166.2 billion in spending a year in the U.S.

That spending by arts organizations and audiences also generates $29.6 billion a year in federal, state and local tax revenue, and it pumps $104.2 billion into residential household income.

Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations also employ the equivalent of 5.7 million full-time workers, and attract audiences from their local communities as well as visitors from outside their communities.

Excluding the cost of admission, event-related spending averages $27.79 per person, with residents of a local community spending $19.53 per person on average, and visitors spending $40.19 per person on average .

So the arts and culture create jobs, attract visitors to a community, and generate spending that flows into household incomes and tax coffers.

The arts and culture also enrich the life of our communities.

Charitable giving in the U.S. totaled $260 billion in 2005, with giving to the arts, culture and humanities representing only 5.2 percent of overall giving, according to Giving USA.

And while overall giving grew 6.1 percent, or 2.7 percent when adjusted for inflation, giving to the arts, culture and humanities fell 3.4 percent to $13.51 billion, or a decline to 6.6 percent below the previous year’s level, after adjusting for inflation.

It was the first decline in giving to the arts, culture and humanities, before adjusting for inflation, since 1998.

The arts do not address critical immediate needs like hunger, homeless, poverty or illiteracy.

But the arts do create jobs, income and taxes, and schools and social-services agencies increasingly are using the arts to improve the performance of their students and the well-being of their clients.

Far from a frill, the arts are a critical ingredient to healthy communities, which can reap healthy returns for public and private investment in the arts.


  • At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks, Todd, for taking the time to comment on the ways that the arts enhance the North Carolina economy. This updated AFTA study continues to provide the detailed information about economic impact that helps to support the view that the arts are necessary, not just needy. Giving to the arts is an investment in the future, with ripples of benefits that affect the overall style and aesthetic profile of a creative community.

    Margaret S. Mertz
    Executive Director
    Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts


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