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Economic Impact of Creative Nonprofits Equals $1.2 Billion

NC Arts Council LogoIn May, we encouraged readers of this blog to contact their state legislators to remind them that any further cuts to the state arts budget would negatively affect every county and “strike at the heart of arts-driven economic development.” But just how impactful would further cuts be?

The North Carolina Arts Council released the results of a statewide study yesterday, and the conclusion won’t suprise anyone who is either involved in the arts or who has watched real estate skyrocket in formerly “artsy” neighborhoods. The bottomline? The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $1.2 billion in direct economic activity in North Carolina, supporting more than 43,600 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $119 million in revenue for local governments and the State of North Carolina.

Here are the highlights:

  • Audiences in 2010 spent more than $582.6 million in North Carolina, with each person spending an average of $23.37 in the community. This spending does not include the cost of admissions.
  • Arts and culture are also important to the state’s tourism industry. The study showed that 51.2 percent of all non-residents survey respondents reported that the primary reason for their trip was specifically to attend the arts/cultural event where they were surveyed.
  • The Piedmont Triad Economic Development Region had $274.7 million in direct economic activity, with 9,746 full-time equivalent jobs supported by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, more than $150 million in audience spending and $28 million in revenue for local government and the State of North Carolina.

The arts are also naturally “loca-vore.”

“Because arts organizations are strongly rooted in their community the jobs they provide are on the whole local and cannot be shipped overseas,” said NC Arts Council Executive Director Wayne Martin.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study was conducted by Americans for the Arts and supported by the Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts. The full text of the national statistical reports is available at

To read more about the study, and to read the full press release, click here.