Photo of Michael J. Brown Mural by Laura Shmania
Mural by Michael J. Brown, Chapel Hill, NC

June 12, 2012

Arts Economic Impact in Orange County, NC

Orange County's Nonprofit Arts and Culture Industry Generates $85.4 Million in Economic Activity and Supports 3,352 Jobs Annually According to Americans for the Arts

Arts Industry Returns $8.0 Million in Revenue to Local and State Coffers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $85.4 million in annual economic activity in Orange County, NC —supporting 3,352 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $8.0 million in local and state government revenues, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV national economic impact study. The most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States, Arts & Economic Prosperity IV was conducted by Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education.

According to the study, nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Orange County, NC spent $63.9 million during fiscal year 2010. This spending is far-reaching: organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services and acquire assets within their community. Those dollars, in turn, generated $55.6 million in household income for local residents and $5.4 million in local and state government revenues.

“We’re thrilled to have the proof that the arts repay the investment – they create jobs and stimulate the economy, attract visitors and new residents, and improve the quality of life for the community. On every level – local, state, and national – the arts mean business!” said Martha Shannon, Director of the Orange County Arts Commission, AFTA’s local partner for this study.

Nationally, the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study reveals that the nonprofit arts industry produced $135.2 billion in economic activity during 2010. This spending—$61.1 billion by nonprofit arts and culture organizations plus an additional $74.1 billion by their audiences—supported 4.1 million full-time equivalent jobs and generated $22.3 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.

“This study shines a much-needed light on the vital role the arts play in stimulating and sustaining economic development,” says Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Contrary to popular belief, the arts are a bustling industry that supports a plethora of diverse jobs, generates significant revenues for local businesses and to federal, state and local governments and provides quality of life that positions communities to compete in our 21st century creative economy.”



Arts Industry Boon for Local Businesses

In addition to spending by organizations, the nonprofit arts and culture industry leverages $21.5 million in event-related spending by its audiences. As a result of attending a cultural event, attendees often eat dinner in local restaurants, pay for parking, buy gifts and souvenirs, and pay a babysitter. What’s more, attendees from out of town often stay overnight in a local hotel. In Orange County, NC, these dollars support 643 full-time equivalent jobs and generate $2.5 million in local and state government revenues.

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. Americans for the Arts’ local, regional, and statewide project partners contributed both time and financial support to the study. The full text of the national statistical report is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org/EconomicImpact.

The full study results for the state of North Carolina are available at www.ncarts.org/freeform_scrn_template.cfm?ffscrn_id=650.

Full study results for Orange County, NC are available at www.artsorange.org/index-4extra.html.

The Orange County Arts Commission is the official county agency that strengthens the arts in Orange County, North Carolina, which includes the townships of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough. Created in 1985 by Resolution of the Board of County Commissioners, the Arts Commission’s 15-member citizen Advisory Board meets the 2nd Monday each month (except for July) from 6-7:30 pm. The Orange County Arts Commission is housed in the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, 501 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC. For more information, contact Martha Shannon at 919/968-2011 or visit www.artsorange.org.



Orange County Highlights from Arts & Economic Prosperity IV

Nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Orange County, NC spent a total of $85.4 million during fiscal year 2010. This spending - $63.9 million by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and an additional $21.5 million in event-related spending by their audiences – supports 3,352 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $8.0 million in local and state government revenue.

Attendees to cultural events in Orange County, NC spend an average of $14.68 per person as a result of attending the event, excluding the cost of admission. For example, when patrons attend a cultural event, they may pay to park their car, eat dinner in a restaurant, shop in nearby stores, and pay a babysitter when they get home. Non-local attendees may spend the night in a hotel. These dollars generate commerce for local businesses.

Non-resident arts attendees in Orange County, NC spend more per person than local attendees ($19.17 vs. $10.65) as a direct result of their attendance to cultural events.

61.6% of non-resident attendees in Orange County, NC report that the primary reason for their trip is “specifically to attend this arts/cultural event.

42.9% of resident arts attendees in Orange County, NC report if the event they attended were not happening, they would have traveled to a different community in order to attend a similar cultural event. 57.3% of non-resident attendees in Orange County, NC report the same. These data demonstrate that if our community fails to provide a variety of cultural experiences, our audiences will take their discretionary dollars and spend them someplace else.

Arts and culture is a product – a magnet that attracts visitors to the region. In addition, cultural tourists spend twice what their local counterparts do on meals, transportation, and retail.

This study is a myth-buster: it alters the perception that the arts are luxuries worth supporting in prosperous times but hard to justify when the economy is struggling. At a time when governments at all levels are making tough budget choices, this study sends an important message: That support for the arts does not come at the expense of economic development. Rather, it is an industry – one that supports jobs, generates government revenue, is the cornerstone of tourism and economic development, and drives a creativity-based economy.



Orange County Reports and Sample Surveys Used

Final Report for Orange County
Summary of Findings for Orange County
Brochure Insert for Orange County
Sample Audience Expenditure Survey - English
Sample Audience Expenditure Survey - Spanish
Sample Organizational Expenditure Survey - Long
Sample Organizational Expenditure Survey - Short
Arts & Economic Prosperity IV Proclamation (August 21, 2012)

Updated August, 2012