by Byron Woods
North Carolina’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $1.24 billion in direct economic activity, and the Triangle region led the state, accounting for just under a third of the total amount in 2010. Moreover, in a time when economic growth has been scarce, jobs in the state’s creative industry have grown by more than 3.5 percent since 2006. Those numbers were among the findings announced Monday in Winston-Salem when the North Carolina Arts Council released the results of a statewide study into the economic impact of the arts.
The study, “Arts and Economic Prosperity IV,” also found that arts and cultural spending generated more than $119 million in tax revenues for local and state governments, supporting more than 43,000 jobs in North Carolina in 2010.
One of the study’s more significant findings was that a nonprofit sector constituting just 2 percent of North Carolina’s total creative industry generated more than five times that amount of the industry’s direct gross domestic product, accounting for 11 percent of all industry spending in 2010. “The fact ... illustrates again just how powerful, profitable and important our nonprofit organizations are to the overall creative industry of North Carolina,” said Linda Carlisle, Secretary of Cultural Resources.
Ardath Weaver, director of research for the North Carolina Arts Council, noted the difference between the state’s support for nonprofits and the return it receives. “When you look at the amount of seed money invested from the public sector into these organizations, you see a huge return that their activities bring back to the coffers of state and local government,” Weaver said. “The amount of state funding we give out in grants to these organizations is $6.8 million. That returns $62.3 million to the state in tax revenue.” An additional $56.6 million is also generated in local tax revenues.
“We hear a lot of talk about supporting the arts, but I think this study shows that the arts support us,” noted Steve Berlin, vice-chairman of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. “Arts create jobs, generate tax revenue and make tremendous contributions to our community.”
In the Triangle, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their patrons generated $390 million in direct economic activity in 2010, accounting for 14,882 jobs. They generated $19.7 million in state tax revenue and $17.7 million in local tax revenues.
The North Carolina study, which drew on fiscal information from 957 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and more than 19,000 audience surveys from across the state, was conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology as part of a national economic impact study effort by Americans for the Arts, a Washington-based advocacy group.
In focusing only on nonprofit and government facilities, the survey did not include for-profit enterprises (including the movie and gaming industries), or individual artists and creative workers. Not all eligible organizations participated in the study, so the report notes that its findings are probably an understatement of the industry’s actual economic impact.
The study found that more than 25.7 million people across the state attended events and facilities sponsored by the reporting organizations in 2010, spending an average of $23.37 on refreshments, meals, ground transportation and lodging beyond ticket prices.
“More than 47,000 creative for-profit and nonprofit establishments are making a difference in our state,” Carlisle said. “This latest study shows even more strongly that an investment in the arts is an investment in a growth industry.”