Arts & economic recovery

Manufacturing. Technology. Agriculture. Service industries. All words we commonly hear from politicians and pundits discussing key segments of the economy.

Why is the arts and culture sector so rarely mentioned in talk of economic recovery? According to a report by the National Governors Association, arts and culture-related industries (also known as “creative industries”) provide the following direct economic benefits to states and communities:

  • They create jobs
  • They attract investments
  • They generate tax revenues
  • They stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases

Americans for the Arts, a national arts advocacy organization, shares some pretty impressive statistics on their website:

  • Arts-related economic activity generates $29.6 billion in government revenue, of which $12.6 billion is federal revenue.
  • The total investment of the federal government in arts and culture is $1.5 billion.
  • The federal return on investment for arts and culture is more than 8 to 1.

Their “Jobs & The Arts” issue brief notes that nationally, 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations are members of the business community. These organizations and their audiences:

  • Generate $166.2 billion in economic activity every year
  • Support 5.7 million jobs
  • Return nearly $30 billion in government revenue every year

This issues brief also notes that “Every $1 billion in spending by these organizations–and their audiences–results in almost 70,000 full-time-equivalent jobs.”

If you’re voting today without considering candidate records on the arts, or the possible impact of various propositions on arts and culture, consider making the arts front and center as you approach future issues and elections.

Americans for the Arts also offers information on arts and economic prosperity, including the impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences in various cities throughout the country.

So far I’ve enjoyed reviewing the lovely charts for Chandler, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Tempe, Eastern Maricopa County and Pima County. It’s a welcome diversion from the endless rings of incoming robocalls.

Whatever the specific outcome of Tuesday’s elections, Americans for the Arts encourages members of Congress to take specific actions to support the creative industries.

These include providing tax credits for nonprofit businesses to spur hiring, helping to preserve and create jobs in the arts, extending unemployment and health care benefits for part-time employees, and more.

To learn how you can support the cause of Arizona arts and culture, visit the websites of Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

These organizations offer Arizona-specific information, tips for taking action (contacting legislators, writing letters to the editor, etc.) and much more.

Voting resources from Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts include information you may still find helpful today before heading to the polls — which you can easily access by clicking here.

— Lynn

Note: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded a $322,900 grant to the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and four Arizona nonprofits received direct grants: Arizona Theatre Company ($50,000), Ballet Arizona ($50,000), Borderlands Theater Teatro Fronterizo, Inc. ($25,000) and Drawing Studio, Inc. ($25,000). Learn more at

Coming up: New movie theater comes to the Valley, Exploring RACE at the Arizona Science Center, Heard Museum North Scottsdale adventures