Study shows impact of arts on communities

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – When the economy is strained, it is often easy for the government, local municipalities, businesses, and residents to reign in their spending. Post-pandemic business restructuring along with market volatility often leaves non-profits such as the arts, with deficits in their charitable donations.

On October 12, 2023—the Americans for the Arts (AFTA), a Washington, D.C. research and advocacy group, announced the findings of its Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 Study (AEP6), as the most comprehensive economic and social impact study of the nation’s $151.7 billion nonprofit arts and culture industry.

As a measure to raise awareness of just how important the arts are to a community, the study underscores the importance of the arts in all communities, big or small, and how it supported 2.6 million jobs and provided $101 billion in personal income to residents and generated $29.1 billion in tax revenue to local, state, and federal governments.

“If people stop investing in the arts, you would see a downturn in the community and it wouldn’t be as fun to go somewhere that did not invest in the arts,” Convention and Visitor Bureau Vice President, Sierra Jones said.

Officials say that other important aspects of arts and cultural events include strengthening the visitor economy, keeping residents spending locally, pride in our community, providing more businesses and jobs, and improving personal well-being, including a better understanding of cultural diversity.

“When you go to an event, you’re gonna go out to dinner, you’re gonna pay for parking, you’re gonna pay for child care, you may stay in a hotel and that’s how it affects our whole community,” Emerge Executive Director, Holly Garriott said.

Pitt County officials say that their calendar of events is robust and provides something for everyone throughout the year. Whether you enjoy the performing arts, a trip to a museum, or even a lecture or class, the cost is small compared to the value it provides. As every dollar spent now, may predict the lasting “performance” of our community’s future.

“We definitely see an increase in visitation, it’s always the top three to five most visited pages on our Visit NC website, so we know people are looking for those arts and cultural opportunities and coming here, spending their money to have a good time and enjoy those experiences,” Jones said.