The Economic Impact of Arts and Culture

Todays News


The nation’s nonprofit arts and cultural organizations received a report card of sorts this weekend with the release of Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5)—a countrywide economic impact survey from Americans for the Arts measuring the contribution of arts and culture nonprofits at the national, state and county levels for the year 2015. And while Jim Shirley, executive director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, which facilitated the county’s participation in the survey, warns that the report has just arrived and needs more analysis, early indicators such as job growth and total industry expenditures give Sarasotans reason to celebrate. “There’s a lot of activity going on,” he says. “The impact of arts and culture in Sarasota County is probably greater than we all understand.”

Going on first impressions, Shirley looks for what he calls “impact indicators”—those data points that point to growth beyond the statistic itself. Job growth, measured in the AEP5 as Full-Time Equivalent Jobs Supported, is one such indicator, says Shirley, and saw a roughly 20-percent increase from the previous economic impact survey, conducted for the year 2010 and released in 2012. At that time, jobs supported by arts and culture nonprofits measured at 4,579 jobs; the AEP5 places that total at 5,517 for 2015. Importantly, says Shirley, these jobs refer to more than actors and musicians, but professionals of all stripes, from electricians and plumbers to computer techs and marketing professionals. And all of these people live and work and spend in the local economy. “They are contributing money back into the economy,” says Shirley, “in addition to the money they and their organization help bring in.”

Another important indicator, total industry expenditure (money spent in the local economy by arts and culture nonprofits), rose by more than 60 percent to a total of more than $295 million. Taken together, Shirley says the increases amount to more than simply a recovery from recession levels, but a move into a “supportive economy” for arts and culture in Sarasota County. More than a sign of economic recovery, it’s a sign that the county’s dedication to excellence in its cultural programming is having an effect and drawing supporters to Sarasota from across the country. “It’s not an accident that we have two of the largest community foundations in the state of Florida,” says Shirley. “That’s because the arts attract people who know what it takes to build community and they’re willing to put their money, time and volunteer efforts behind it.”

To view the full AEP5 report and to investigate the methodology, follow the link below.

Arts and Economic Prosperity 5

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