Arts and Economic Prosperity

The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts Organizations and their Audiences

Americans for the Arts
Review by Carl Little

2002, 20 pages. Americans for the Arts, 203.371.2830,

"When we hear talk about reducing support for the arts," writes Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, "we should ask: Who will make up for the lost economic activity?" The gist of the message of that group's Arts & Economic Prosperity report is simple and catchy: "the arts mean business."

The report offers more impressive statistics for arts and culture advocates to draw from, including the $134 billion in total economic activity generated by arts organizations and their audiences — “more than the gross domestic product of most nations in the world,” the authors note. The nonprofit arts field is a growth industry, with steady and impressive annual increases in total spending by organizations. Volunteer hours in the ninety-one communities studied are also factored in, 142,083 in all — a donation of time valued at $2.2 million.