Why the Arts Recover Economies

When the global pandemic shuttered arts and culture organizations last March, over 5.1 million jobs were affected in the United States. All industries have been impacted, of course, but the arts—especially the performing arts—have been hit particularly hard. Since March, Americans for the Arts has been tracking the financial losses to surveyed nonprofit arts and culture organizations: an estimated $14.6 billion in lost revenue; over 113 million visitors in lost attendance; and over 110,000 employees furloughed or laid off. When all fine and performing arts organizations are counted (nonprofit, commercial, and academic), according to a study by the Brookings Institute through July, the loss is $42.5 billion in sales and 1.4 million jobs.

Americans for the Arts’ survey findings also estimate a financial impact of $1.7 trillion—from reporting nonprofit arts organizations alone.

Why such a high impact? Because the arts affect far more than organizations’ staff and visitors. The arts and culture sector is 4.5% of the United States gross domestic product. That’s a larger share than transportation, construction, agriculture, or education. This is why arts and entertainment venues have been prioritized in recent Federal COVID-19 relief legislation.

According to the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, the arts sector generates $166.3 billion in annual economic activity and generates $27.5 billion in Federal, state, and local government revenue.

In addition to spending at arts organizations, the nonprofit arts and culture industry nationally leverages $102.5 billion in event-related spending by local and out-of-state audiences. As a result of attending a cultural event, some attendees eat dinner in local restaurants, pay for parking, buy gifts and souvenirs, and pay a babysitter. Attendees from out-of-town might even stay overnight in a local hotel. Nationally, event attendees spend an average of $31.47 on event-related expenses, not including the price of a ticket.

Over the month, we’ll share more data and resources about the impact of the arts on the Massachusetts economy specifically and in local cultural districts. The arts will be key to economic recovery and growth!

Published by MCA

The Mosesian Center for the Arts is a vibrant multi-disciplinary community arts organization in Watertown, Massachusetts. The 30,000 square foot Center, located within a former United States Army arsenal, includes a 340-seat main stage theater, a 100-seat black box theater, exhibition galleries, rehearsal halls, classrooms, and resident artist studios. Program offerings include visual and performing arts classes and workshops for all ages, literary and art discussions, and world-class theatrical and musical performances. Regionally recognized and acclaimed, Watertown Children’s Theatre proudly serves as MCA’s flagship performing arts education program, providing exceptional theater arts classes and performances for youth and families. New Repertory Theatre is the award-winning professional theater company in residence at MCA, and the venue is rented to other outstanding performing arts companies in the Greater Boston region.

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