The Arts Pump $20.8 Million Into Local Economy

The arts are a major economic driver in Wilmington.  New Hanover County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $20.8 million dollars of economic activity—$5.7 million in direct spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations, plus $15.1 million in spending by their audiences. This economic activity had a significant impact on the local economy, supporting 799 full-time equivalent jobs, and generating $2.1 million in revenue to local and state governments.

In addition, studies consistently show that dollars spent on human resources typically stay within a community longer, thereby having a greater local economic impact. And Arts & Economic Prosperity IV™ results show that nearly half (48.4 percent) of a typical nonprofit organization’s expenditures are for their human capital—artists and personnel.

“Arts & Economic Prosperity IV™ demonstrates that nonprofit arts and culture organizations are valuable contributors to the business community,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “They are employers, producers, consumers and key promoters of their cities and regions, and they leverage significant event-related spending by their audiences for local merchants. This study makes it clear that the nonprofit arts and culture industry are not only drivers of business but also a key component to economic sustainability and future prosperity.”

“Nonprofit arts and culture organizations are rooted locally—more than most businesses,” said Lynch. “They essentially operate as a small business, employing people locally in jobs that cannot be shipped overseas and purchasing goods and services within the community. What’s more, spending by these organizations directly supports other locally-based businesses not typically associated with the arts—construction, plumbing, accounting, printing and an array of occupations that span multiple industries.”

Tourism industry research has consistently shown that arts tourists stay longer and spend more than the average traveler. Arts & Economic Prosperity IV™ results reflect this principle. Among those audience members surveyed, 32 percent live outside the county in which the arts event took place. And, their event-related spending is more than twice that of their local counterparts ($39.96 vs. $17.42). As such, communities that draw cultural tourists experience an additional boost of economic activity that further propels local economic engines.

“Arts & Economic Prosperity IV™ proves that the arts and the cultural tourists that flock to them are good for the economy,” explains Lynch, who also serves on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, a position appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.“The arts are magnets for tourists, and local businesses reap the financial rewards of the increased spending they bring to local economies. Simply put, the arts and culture industry is a cornerstone of tourism and economic development in America.”