When it comes to the arts, the first things that might spring to mind are the emotional and cultural benefits. Art, in its myriad forms, nourishes the soul, enriches the community, and brings a sense of cultural identity. But did you know that the arts have a significant economic impact on national, state and local economies?
A Vibrant National Economic Sector
According to a report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the arts and cultural sector contributed over $800 billion to the U.S. economy in 2019, or around 4.3% of the GDP. This includes everything from performing arts and museums to film production and advertising. The industry also generated approximately 5.2 million jobs, demonstrating its considerable role in employment. In contrast, other sectors like agriculture and transportation make up smaller proportions of the GDP.
Moreover, the arts drive tourism. Tourists are more likely to spend on cultural events, thereby supporting local businesses. As per a 2019 study by Americans for the Arts, nonlocal attendees of arts events spend an average of $47.57 beyond the cost of admission. This additional spending boosts sectors like hospitality, retail, and transportation.
Florida’s Flourishing Arts Scene
Florida also boasts a vibrant arts community that plays a significant role in the state’s economy. According to the Florida Cultural Alliance, the nonprofit arts and culture industry in Florida generates over $4.68 billion in total economic activity, supporting more than 132,000 full-time jobs. This doesn’t even account for the contributions from the for-profit sector, which includes film production, design services, and the music industry.
Cities like Miami have turned into global art hubs, partly due to events like Art Basel Miami Beach, which alone contributes approximately $13 million to the local economy. In Orlando, the arts scene is dominated by performing arts with institutions like the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which bring both economic and social gains to the community.
Here in Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Sarasota, which is also known as the Culture Coast, have thriving arts scenes that play significant roles in each city’s economy. These cities are home to numerous art galleries, museums, performance venues, and cultural festivals like the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, Mainsail Arts Festival in St. Petersburg, and the Sarasota Fall Fine Art Festival. The arts not only contribute directly to the economy through art purchases, merchandise, concessions, and other revenue streams but also indirectly by attracting tourism, inspiring local spending in nearby businesses like restaurants and hotels and increasing property values in arts-rich neighborhoods.
The Economic Driver of the Arts in Hillsborough County
According to the Hillsborough Arts Council, there are 181 arts and cultural nonprofits in Hillsborough County. The most recent study produced by Americans for the Arts (AFTA) reported that arts and cultural organizations in Hillsborough County were responsible for $433.2 million in total expenditures annually and resulted in 14,962 jobs that created $329,133,000 in household income. Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, like the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, or GFA, accounted for $175.2 million in total expenditures alone and added $7,982,000 to local government revenue.
The Multiplier Effect and Community Revitalization
The impact of the arts goes beyond direct financial contributions; it has a multiplier effect. The arts often lead to community revitalization. In districts known for their arts scene, property values often rise, and businesses thrive. Sarasota is a perfect example of that. In Sarasota County, arts and culture have a direct economic impact of $295,004,458 per year. The arts employ 7,445 and contributes $166,978,000 directly to household income. Moreover, a recent study by The Urban Institute’s Performing Arts Research Coalition shows that 71 percent of Sarasota residents attend arts events. In addition, 43 percent of those surveyed said that the arts played a part in their decision to move to Sarasota.
Here in Tampa, More Than Two million People Attend Arts and Culture Events Each Year
They spend on average $40.09 per person on event-related spending, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study, which translates to $80 million+ in additional revenue for the city annually.
This data dramatically 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 data sends an important message — that their support for the arts does not come at the expense of economic development. This study sends a strong signal to our community that when it supports the arts, it also invests in our community’s economic well-being.
Moreover, the arts serve as a powerful tool for education and social inclusion, which indirectly supports economic growth. Students with high levels of arts engagement are more likely to excel academically, which in turn correlates with higher employability and earning potential.
Four in Five Americans Believe The Arts are a Positive Experience in a Troubled World
The arts are not just a ‘nice-to-have’ aspect of society; they are a ‘must-have’ economic powerhouse. From generating billions in economic activity to revitalizing communities and promoting social inclusion, the impact of the arts is multifaceted and far-reaching. The United States, and Florida in particular, are prime examples of how investing in the arts is not just a cultural endeavor but an economic imperative.
In short, the arts not only enriches our cultural tapestry but also fortifies our economic foundation. GFA is proud to have been a part of this economic engine for the past 54 years.