Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 Study Shares Insight into Arts and Culture Economic Impact

“The City has long recognized the importance of artists in the weave of the social fabric of our community. These survey results serve to further highlight their contribution to the vitality of the Santa Cruz economy." — - Bonnie Lipscomb, Director of the City of Santa Cruz Department of Economic Development & Housing

Groundbreaking Study Reveals Economic and Social Impact of $68 million Nonprofit Arts and Culture Sector in Santa Cruz County

Arts Council Santa Cruz County announced that Santa Cruz County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $68 million in economic activity in 2022, according to the newly released Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), a national economic and social impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts and commissioned by Arts Council Santa Cruz County.

Spending by arts and culture audiences generates valuable commerce to local merchants, a value-add that few other industries can compete with. That economic activity–$54,469,219 million in expenditures by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and $13,698,812 in event-related spending by their audiences–supported 1,437 jobs and generated $23,419,197 in local, state, and federal government revenue.

The Arts Council commissioned two additional studies locally, one for the City of Santa Cruz and one for the City of Watsonville. The total economic impact figures ($38 million in the City of Santa Cruz and less than $9 million in the City of Watsonville) highlight the disparity between North and South County.

"Cultural vitality is the heartbeat of Santa Cruz County, and the Arts and Economic Prosperity Study unequivocally underscores the immeasurable value of arts and culture to our community. This research illuminates the economic contributions and the profound social enrichment that the arts bring to our region. The research also highlights the disparity between the City of Santa Cruz and the City of Watsonville. The data speaks loudly – Santa Cruz generates an economic impact of close to four times that of Watsonville, per capita. This difference underscores the need to bridge the gap in events, venues, and artist opportunities between our north and south county, ensuring that the benefits of arts and culture are accessible and equitable for all," says Arts Council Santa Cruz County Executive Director Jim Brown.

The arts play a pivotal role in shaping our local economy and are the heart and soul of our community’s identity. This study underscores the remarkable strides made by the Watsonville Movement for the Arts, while also illuminating the pressing necessity and potential for increased investment and broader accessibility to the arts within Watsonville."

- Noe Ibarra, Chair of the City of Watsonville Parks and Recreation Commission

Building on its 30-year legacy as the most extensive and inclusive study of its kind, AEP6 uses a rigorous methodology to document the economic and social contributions of the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry.

Nationally, the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study reveals that America’s nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $151.7 billion industry—one that supports 2.6 million jobs and generates $29.1 billion in government revenue.

AEP6 represents a reset from its previous versions, establishing a new benchmark in the AEP study series.

Social Impact:
For the first time, AEP6 expands beyond the economic and financial data to include social impact measurements of arts and culture’s effect on the well-being of communities and residents.

Equity and Inclusion: AEP6 broke new ground by prioritizing equity, community engagement, and inclusivity. To reduce systemic bias, Americans for the Arts transformed its approach and expanded the inclusion and participation of organizations serving or representing BIPOC- (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and ALAANA- (African, Latine, Asian, Arab, Native American) identifying communities.

The Arts and Economic Prosperity study's expansion to prioritize equity highlights how the arts can serve as a catalyst for building stronger, more vibrant, and equitable communities."

- Consuelo Alba, Arts Council Santa Cruz County Board President

Nationally, extensive research reveals proportional economic and community impacts among attendees at BIPOC and ALAANA organizations to the overall national average. These findings should initiate new and escalate existing critical funding conversations about BIPOC and ALAANA organizations receiving fair and proportional financial support.

Key figures from Santa Cruz County’s AEP6 study include:

- Santa Cruz County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $13.7 million in event-related spending by its audiences.
- The typical attendee spends $30.26 per person per event, not including the cost of admission.
- In Santa Cruz County, 22.5% of attendees are nonlocal visitors who traveled from outside Santa Cruz County; they spend an average of $52.74 per event, not including the cost of admission.
- 89% of respondents agreed that the activity or venue they attended was “a source of neighborhood pride for the community.”
- 87.4% said they would “feel a sense of loss if that activity or venue was no longer available.”

Thanks to Santa Cruz Arts Commissioner Bridget Lyons for being a stellar coordinator during the months of surveying!

Please see a one page summary and report excerpt below from the City of Santa Cruz specific study.

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From coast to coast—and in the City of Santa Cruz—America’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations are providing inspiration and joy to residents, beautifying public spaces, and strengthening community pride and identity. Arts and culture organizations are also businesses. They employ people locally, purchase goods and services from nearby businesses, and produce the authentic cultural experiences that are magnets for visitors, tourists, and new residents. Event-related spending by their audiences generates valuable revenue for local merchants—dining in a nearby restaurant, paying to park or for a rideshare, shopping at local retail stores, and enjoying dessert after a show—a value-add few industries can compete with. These actions, in turn, support jobs, generate household income, and generate tax revenues to the government that more than offset the public’s arts and culture sector investment. The economic activity by arts and culture organizations and their audiences is both measurable and a story that must be told.

Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) provides compelling evidence that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a significant industry in the City of Santa Cruz—one that generated $38.1 million in total economic activity during 2022. This spending—$30.0 million by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and an additional $8.1 million in event- related spending by their audiences—supports 981 jobs, generates $40.5 million in household income for local residents, and delivers $14.2 million in tax revenues to local, state, and federal governments. This study sends a strong signal that, even in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession, the nonprofit arts and culture is a formidable industry. AEP6 demonstrates that when we support the arts, we are investing in Santa Cruz’s economic and community well-being.

AEP6 is the largest and most inclusive study of its kind. It documents the economic and social contributions of arts and culture in 373 diverse communities and regions representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The study areas range in population from 4,000 to 4 million and represent rural, suburban, and urban communities (130 cities and 126 counties, 78 multi-city or multi-county regions, 18 individual arts districts, and 21 entire states/territories).

To measure industry spending, local and statewide research partners representing the 373 study regions collected expenditure and attendance data from 16,399 arts and culture organizations and the event-related spending information from 224,667 of their attendees. Using the IMPLAN economic modeling platform, input-output analysis models were customized for each study region to provide specific and reliable economic impact data for each.

This unique report has been prepared for the City of Santa Cruz in collaboration with our community research partner, Arts Council Santa Cruz County.

CA City Of Santa Cruz AEP6 One Page Summary Of Findings
CA City Of Santa Cruz AEP6 One Page Summary Of Findings page 2

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