Frequently Asked Questions

Why an Index? What’s Treasured is Measured

If something is important and vital, we want to know how much of it there is and how it is changing. We want to measure it and track it over time, as people do with their weight and income. The arts are a fundamental component of a healthy society, based on virtues that touch the individual, community, and the nation—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times:

  • Aesthetics: The arts create beauty and preserve it as part of culture
  • Creativity: The arts encourage creativity, a critical skill in a dynamic world
  • Expression: Artistic work lets us communicate our interests and visions
  • Identity: Arts goods, services, and experiences help define our culture
  • Innovation: The arts are sources of new ideas, futures, concepts, and connections
  • Preservation: Arts and culture keep our collective memories intact
  • Prosperity: The arts create millions of jobs and enhance economic health
  • Skills: Arts aptitudes and techniques are needed in all sectors of society and work
  • Social Capital: We enjoy the arts together, across races, generations, and places

For these reasons, it is important to understand how the arts thrive and remain healthy, enabling them to deliver these valuable benefits. It is this health and ability to sustain itself over time that we refer to as the “vitality” of arts and culture.

Why a National Arts Index?

The arts are a fundamental component of a healthy society, based on virtues that touch the individual, community, and the nation—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times:

  • Aesthetics: The arts create beauty and preserve it as part of culture
  • Creativity: The arts encourage creativity, a critical skill in a dynamic world
  • Expression: Artistic work lets us communicate our interests and visions
  • Identity: Arts goods, services, and experiences help define our culture
  • Innovation: The arts are sources of new ideas, futures, concepts, and connections
  • Preservation: Arts and culture keep our collective memories intact
  • Prosperity: The arts create millions of jobs and enhance economic health
  • Skills: Arts aptitudes and techniques are needed in all sectors of society and work
  • Social Capital: We enjoy the arts together, across races, generations, and places

What’s treasured is measured. These are the reasons that it is important to understand how the arts thrive and remain healthy, because it enables the arts to deliver these valuable benefits. It is this health and ability to sustain itself over time that we refer to as the “vitality” of arts and culture. The presence of arts and culture is seen in the 2.2 million artists in the U.S. workforce, 109,000 nonprofit arts organizations and 550,000 additional arts businesses, as well as the hundreds of millions of consumers and audiences and billions of dollars in consumer spending.

Given its significance to American life, the vitality of the arts and culture system is a matter of continuing interest, and good information about the condition of the arts is a critical element of that interest. There are many individual studies of artists, markets, and audiences, but few that focus on the whole arts system, and those are intermittent. The National Arts Index addresses this gap. One need not look far to appreciate the ubiquitous presence of indicators in our society. In other areas of broad social interest, like the stock market or the overall economy, there are standard measures that provide a common language and understanding. If someone says that the “Dow” is going up or down, or that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is rising or falling, we understand that these are broad measures of stock market performance or overall economic strength. Indicators are well understood and respected by public and private sector leaders as well as by ordinary citizens. They compress large amounts of data into one number that is calculated the same way every day (the Dow) and every year or calendar quarter (the GDP), making it easy to compare performance between time periods. The National Arts Index provides an annual measure of the arts with these same qualities, at annual intervals.

The National Arts Index is a tool to stimulate public dialogue about the value of the arts as well as improve policy and decision-making—one that is more considered and lacks the fervor often associated with the typical impetus for such conversations (“Funding cuts!” or “Public art controversy!”). It provides a common currency of language, a way for more people to talk in an informed manner about the arts, using similar information and terms, about why change is occurring, where things are going in the future, and how the arts can stay vital.

The National Arts Index helps to advance the public discourse about the arts in three ways:

  1. We widened the lens to look at all of the different arts sectors—nonprofit arts organizations, for-profit arts businesses, individual artists, as well as amateur levels of activity. Taken together, this gives us a fuller picture of the arts world.
  2. The data are contextualized against a backdrop of annual changes in population, economy, inflation, and employment. This ensures that arts changes are distinguishable from trends affecting all sectors. For example, if attendance at a particular art form increases 0.5 percent per year—while total population grows 1 percent—then that art form is losing market share. This context provides “The Honest Look.”
  3. We take a systems approach to understanding the ecology of the arts industries. We created the Arts and Culture Balanced Scorecard, a logic model that relates all 81 indicators to each other in a systemic way by grouping the indicators into four key components:
    • Financial Flows—philanthropy, artist income, business revenue—payments for artistic services.
    • Capacity—artists, organizations, employment
    • Arts Participation—consumption of arts activities, attendance, experience
    • Competitiveness—the position of the arts compared to other sectors—market share, how the arts compete for philanthropy, discretionary spending
Why a Local Arts Index?

In January 2010 Americans for the Arts launched the National Arts Index (NAI), an annual measure of the health and vitality of arts and culture in the U.S. The National Arts Index has provided a compelling and evidence-based look at key issues affecting the industry, such as the growing number of artists and arts organizations, changing audience demand, the impact of technology, and personal participation as well as some surprises such as the growing demand for arts education by college-bound high school seniors and the rapid growth in culturally- and ethnically- diverse arts organizations.

The National Arts Index told a broad national story about the whole U.S. Yet, we know instinctively that, while the national picture paints a single “broad-brush” story, our American communities are extremely diverse and need their story told in a unique “small-brush” way. A more complete picture has to come from studying the arts and culture at the local level, not just as one national measure. A local arts index that tells the story of a community and places it in a larger national context has significant value and serve as a complement to the national index. When the NAI was released many communities expressed interest in “scaling-down” the index to the level of their community. This initial Local Arts Index is a response to that interest and to the growing demand for comparative information on arts at the community level.

Local arts agencies, advocates and cultural leaders regularly seek information and a context to understand the impact of arts and culture in their community, and to have a set of tools to help them ‘make the case’ to audiences, entrepreneurs, funders and government decision-makers. While those goals are implied in the development of the Local Arts Index (LAI), LAI has been developed with a larger community picture in mind. The LAI provides a set of measures to understand the breadth, depth and character of the cultural life of a community. It provides a framework for relating arts and culture to community priorities and aspirations. Those community priorities may range from economic development and revitalization through jobs or infrastructure, or to youth, education or health concerns. As we know, most American communities regularly struggle with all of these challenges. The LAI can serve as a tool to frame questions about the roles or arts and culture in pursuing these priorities and aspirations, as well as show where a community may stand in relation to national norms.

How do I use the Local Arts Index?

There are many potential applications for the Local Arts Index. One is to paint an overall picture towards an understanding of the health and character of the cultural life of a community.

  • What is the nature of our cultural assets?
  • How much arts and culture activity is there in our community?
  • What are the resources that support them?

And the index can be a point of reference for understanding how one community stands in relation to like communities. The Index scores are not a judgment, only a set of facts that can be used in each community as it pursues its own local priorities.

Arts Indicators

The difficulty faced by most individuals – even those within the arts – is synthesizing many sets of data into a concise, cogent portrayal of the arts. Indicators (from the Latin indicare – meaning to announce, show, or point out) are statistical measures that, quite simply, help people understand how things change over time (outputs, opinions, operations). Indicators are not one-time snapshots of current conditions. Rather, they are a systematic data collection initiative that is conducted regularly over time.

An arts indicator is a statistical measure created for the purpose of tracking a value or condition related to the arts. The Local Arts Index compresses many arts indicators into one number that is calculated the same way and at regular time intervals – making it easy to compare performance between time periods.

There are many benefits and uses of these indicators. When reviewing the indicators and comparisons on the “Where I Live” tab, consider the following benefits and possible ways to utilize these indicators:

  • Communications: Indicators represent a language that is well understood and respected by community leaders. They transform complex information into communication tools that can be readily understood by policy makers and the public.
  • Evaluation: Indicators enable decision makers to assess progress toward explicitly stated values and goals. Longitudinal data is a marker for results-based accountability, performance standards, and other statistical tracking endeavors.
  • Policy Development: Reliable trend data play an important role in informing policy makers about community needs and contributing to improved programs.
  • A Foundation for Decision Making: A solid foundation of awareness about trends can give decision makers the confidence to take next steps and set goals. Indicators can provide early warnings—scanning the environment for emerging opportunities and crises (e.g., budget deficits vs. surpluses).
  • Community Dialogue: Some people simply like to be informed about the state of their community and how and why it’s changing. Indicators provide a common currency of language among funders, policy makers, and industry professionals. They improve the quality of the public dialogue about the arts and culture by providing understandable quantitative components to what is often a visceral discussion.
  • Planning and Forecasting: Access to consecutive years of data about one or more specific areas make it easier to forecast the future path of activity in that area.
  • Building Partnerships: Developing indicators collaboratively can provide arts leaders with a better understanding of the values that drive the community—and how to incorporate the arts into that value system. Indicators help non-arts leaders better understand the value of the arts as a core element of their community which in turn can lead them to become more effective advocates for public support and better partners.
How can I find out more about Creative Businesses?

Nationally, there are 904,581 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts that employ 3.34 million people. Representing 4.25 percent of all businesses and 2.15 percent of all employees, respectively.

In advocacy, knowledge is power, but jobs are persuasion. Using data from Dun & Bradstreet—widely acknowledged as the most comprehensive and trusted source for business information in the United States— Creative Industries: Business & Employment in the Arts reports offer a research-based approach to understanding the scope and importance of the arts to the nation’s economy. While most economic impact studies of the arts have focused on the nonprofit sector (such as our own Arts and Economic Prosperity studies), Creative Industries is the first national study that encompasses both the nonprofit and for-profit arts industries.

Funding for the Local Arts Index

Americans for the Arts wishes to express its gratitude to the following organizations that have been key in supporting the research, development and launch of the Local Arts Index. These organizations have provided critical resources to engage the 100+ local partners across the country in designing, modeling and testing the Local Arts Index as well as a research and technology team.

Special Thanks:

  • The Kresge Foundation

Additional support is provided by:

  • The Paul Allen G. Family Foundation
  • The Rhode Island Foundation
  • The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation

Americans for the Arts is also pleased to partner with Ingram Micro Inc. whose support contributed to the following counties: Chicago, IL; Harrisburg and York, PA; Memphis, TN; Dallas, TX area.


We would like to thank the following partners who have participated in the pilot of the Local Arts Index. They have provided their insight and thoughts into development of the LAI and have been instrumental in gathering primary data in their communities.

  • Anchorage Opera, Anchorage, AK
  • Tucson Pima Arts Council, Tucson, AZ
  • Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, Sacramento, CA
  • City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, San Diego, CA
  • Arts Council of Silicone Valley, San Jose, CA
  • Community Development Department – City of Ventura, Ventura, CA
  • Pikes Peak Area Arts Council, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, Denver, CO
  • Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, Parker, CO
  • Cultural Services Department, Loveland, CO
  • Art on the Corner, Downtown Partnership, Grand Junction, CO
  • Wildethyme Art, Monte Vista, CO
  • Greater Hartford Arts Council, Inc., Hartford, CT
  • Arts Council of Greater New Haven, New Haven, CT
  • Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, Washington, DC
  • Gainesville Association for the Creative Arts, Gainesville, FL
  • Broward County Cultural Division, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Hernando County Fine Arts Council, Brooksville, FL
  • City of Tampa, Tampa, FL
  • United Arts of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
  • Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Miami, FL
  • Palm Beach County Cultural Council, Palm Beach, FL
  • Cultural Arts Association of Walton County, Inc., Santa Rosa, FL
  • City of Savannah Department of Cultural Affairs, Savannah, GA
  • Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville/Douglas County, Douglasville, GA
  • City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, Atlanta, GA
  • East Hawai`i Cultural Council, Hilo, HI
  • City of Dubuque, Iowa, Dubuque, IA
  • City of Boise, Department of Arts & History, Boise, ID
  • Arts Alliance Illinois, Chicago, IL
  • Rockford Area Arts Council, Rockford, IL
  • Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN
  • Columbus Area Arts Council, Columbus, IN
  • Arts Place, Inc., Portland, IN
  • Arts Council of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN
  • Tippecanoe Arts Federation, Lafayette, IN
  • Johnson County Arts Council, Johnson County, KS
  • Manhattan Arts Center, Manhattan, KS
  • City of Wichita Arts and Cultural Services, Wichita, KS
  • Arts Council of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
  • City of Slidell Department of Cultural & Public Affairs, Slidell, LA
  • Baltimore Office of Promotion and The Arts, Baltimore, MD
  • Frederick Arts Council, Frederick, MD
  • Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Silver Spring, MD
  • Prince George’s Arts Council, Hyattsville, MD
  • Tibbits Opera Foundation & Arts Council, Inc., Coldwater, MI
  • The Art Center aka Anton Art Center, Mount Clemens, MI
  • Farmington Hills Cultural Arts Division, Farmington Hills, MI
  • Lexington Arts Council, Inc., Lexington, MI
  • Cultural Alliance of Southeast Michigan, Detroit, MI
  • Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, St. Paul, MN
  • United Arts of Central Minnesota, St. Cloud, MN
  • Allied Arts Council of St. Joseph, Inc., St. Joseph, MO
  • Springfield Regional Arts Council, Springfield, MO
  • Arts Council of Metropolitan Kanas City, Kansas City, MO
  • St. Louis Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis, MO
  • Arts Council of Big Sky, Big Sky, MT
  • Missoula Cultural Council, Missoula, MT
  • Durham Arts Council, Durham, NC
  • Arts & Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Inc., Charlotte, NC
  • City of Raleigh Arts Commission, Raleigh, NC
  • United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, Raleigh, NC
  • Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, Wonalancet, NH
  • Montclair Arts Council, Montclair, NJ
  • Monmouth County Arts Council, Red Bank, NJ
  • Creative Albuquerque, Albuquerque, NM
  • CNYCAC, dba Stanley Center for the Arts, Utica, NY
  • Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County, Ithaca, NY
  • Arts Westchester, White Plains, NY
  • Arts Wave, Cincinnati, OH
  • Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, Toledo, OH
  • Portsmouth Area Arts Council, Portsmouth, OH
  • The Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK
  • Clackamas County Arts Alliance, Oregon City, OR
  • Regional Arts & Culture Council, Portland, OR
  • Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Jump Street, Harrisburg, PA
  • ArtsErie, Erie, PA
  • Lehigh Valley Arts Council, Allentown, PA
  • City of Philadelphia – Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, Philadelphia, PA
  • The Cultural Alliance, York, PA
  • City of Providence, Dept. of Art, Culture + Tourism, Providence, RI
  • The Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts, Charleston, SC
  • Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington counties, Columbia, SC
  • The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, Spartanburg, SC
  • Arts Council of York County, Rock Hill, SC
  • Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville, Nashville, TN
  • Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN
  • ArtsMemphis, Memphis, TN
  • Cultural Arts Division – City of Kingsport, Kingsport, TN
  • City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, Dallas, TX
  • Greater Denton Arts Council, Denton, TX
  • Museums and Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD), El Paso, TX
  • Houston Arts Alliance, Houston, TX
  • Arts Council of Fort Worth & Tarrant County, Fort Worth, TX
  • City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, Austin, TX
  • Salt Lake City Arts Council, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Alexandria Office of the Arts, Alexandria, VA
  • Arlington Cultural Affairs, Arlington, VA
  • Fairfax Arts Council, Fairfax, VA
  • The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, Glen Allen, VA
  • Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads, Norfolk, VA
  • Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Seattle, WA
  • Spokane Arts Commission (City of Spokane), Spokane, WA
Methodology and Appendices

The data on these pages were assembled as part of the Local Arts Index project of Americans for the Arts. The web pages are one of the main project outcomes. The other is a customized report to partners in about 80 US counties who gathered primary data on the arts in their community. The data in these web pages are obtained only from secondary sources in government and the private sector.

This section describes how the Local Arts Index was put together, including: prior helpful studies and models, using the county as unit of analysis, how data series were aggregated to the county level, comments on the nature of the data series, other helpful literature, and information on the research team.

  • We use the county as our unit of analysis. The 2010 Census lists 3,143 counties or equivalents in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia.
  • To measure a wide range of local arts and culture activity, we gathered about 300 micro-level, specific measures, from which we produced 71 useful county-level indicators of arts and culture.
  • We set each of the 71 indicators in a conceptual framework, the Community Arts Vitality Model.
  • Of the 71 indicators, 51 of them are derived from national data sources (secondary data). They will be available on this site, with all additional indicators scheduled for addition in 2012.
  • The remaining 20 are data gathered by our local partners specifically for LAI (primary data) and are not included on these pages.
  • The secondary data sources provide information for varying numbers of counties. Typically, there is ample data to describe urban counties, less for rural counties.
  • Some cover multiple years from 2003 to 2009; most are one-year readings for 2009 forward.

We drew on numerous models. We brought some concepts from the National Arts Index, though with important differences, especially that while NAI was trying to measure one place across time, the Local Arts Index multiple places for the first time. Some reports that influenced our thinking include studies using the Cultural Vitality Index, County Health Rankings of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, and numerous other community indicator projects listed at Community Indicators Consortium. We looked especially closely at about 20 local area studies of creative industries, creative economies, and the like, looking for practical ways to measure the arts at the local level.


This project was labeled the “LOCAL” Arts Index, and its strength is partly based on how well it measures every “locality” or place. This is easier goal to state than to achieve; the “local” frame of reference will be different for every person. Typically, people think of themselves as living in towns, cities, and regions, and would prefer to see their activities recognized at that level. But there are many thousands of local cities and towns, and data describing many of these designated municipalities is uneven and not available for every place. By contrast, dozens of data series that provide useful information about the arts is available describing American counties. These data are gathered by the federal government or national companies. So, we settled on the county as our unit of analysis. Every county has a unique Federal Information Processing System code that is its key in a variety of databases. Some county equivalents are cities in Virginia, parishes in Louisiana, the District of Columbia, and large areas in Alaska. In total, there are 3,143 counties or equivalents that have their own FIPS code.

This total of 3,143 is the largest number of counties that could be used for any indicator. Most indicators describe fewer counties. One main reason is that population distribution and density are uneven. Hundreds of counties are sparsely populated, with little systematic data collection there. More than 300 counties have fewer than 5,000 residents, and more than 900 counties fewer than 10,000. These (relatively small) populations make it hard to gather enough data with sampling procedures, and/or report data without violating privacy and confidentiality. Some government data is collected for every county, but there are gaps in reporting about these smallest places. This is not a problem unique to arts and culture reports by any means.


We obtained secondary data from more than 25 different sources. While some of these data sources are publicly available, many are proprietary and were made available to Americans for the Arts specifically for use in this project.

  • Federal government (Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Endowment for the Arts, Bureau of the Census, Internal Revenue Service, National Parks Service, National Center for Education Statistics)
  • Private membership organizations, professional societies, and trade groups
    • American Association for State and Local History
    • Americans for the Arts
    • Association of American Museums
    • Chorus America
    • Educational Theatre Association
    • League of American Orchestras
    • League of Historic American Theatres
    • National Art Education Association
    • National Association for Music Education (formerly Music Educators National Conference)
    • National Dance Educators Organization
    • National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts
    • National Office for Arts Accreditation
    • Opera America
    • Theatre Communications Group
  • Research institutions:
    • National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
    • National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute
  • Commercial data providers
    • Claritas-Nielsen
    • Scarborough Research
    • Dun & Bradstreet

As in the National Arts Index project, we used some evaluation criteria to determine whether we could use a particular data point. The relevant criteria for the Local Arts Index are:

  1. The indicator has at its core a meaningful measurement of arts and culture activity
  2. The data are measured at the county level
  3. The data are produced annually by a reputable organization
  4. The data are statistically valid, even if based on sample
  5. We expect that future years of data will be available for use in the Index
  6. The data are affordable within project budget constraints

Many secondary data sources have provided their data based on FIPS codes. Others were provided based on zip codes. We used a commercial product that associates each zip code with one county. This technique, while not uncommon in national studies that use zip code data, is imperfect because not all zip codes are confined to one county. Estimates of errors range from 10 to 15 percent. We accepted the risk of this range of errors because of the vast amount of data that became available from membership and other organizations that were willing to share information with us (and you) for this project.


We learned in the National Arts Index the value of transparency and of identifying both advantages and problems of choices we made to measure the arts at the local level. All data collection and manipulation procedures involve tradeoffs between the objective of a robust and informative result on the one hand, limited by method or data or resources on the other.

A major goal was to provide broad-based and deep coverage of arts and culture in counties. We achieve breadth by scanning for secondary sources in a range of places. We achieved depth by engaging local arts leaders across the country as partners, and by using multiple measures of some especially important arts phenomena (employment, workers’ income). In all cases we strove for consistency across the different sites.

Like everything, our methods have both benefits and concerns. Some benefits and advantages of our method include:

  • Use of multiple data series from private and public sources to create what we believe is the largest data set every assembled describing arts and culture at the local level
  • Using a diverse view of artistic businesses and work, rather than limiting to a few modes of artistic activity
  • Using the county as a unit of analysis allows us to explore and measure the arts in smaller communities
  • All data are “ratio scaled,” not measured just as categories, ordinarily, or in intervals. This makes it possible to do some calculations and statistical analysis with county scores.
  • We’ve joined with local participants all over the country to work together give us an up-close look at the arts in multiple communities.
  • We built the “Community Arts Vitality Model” to organize the indicators
  • We set the base for indicator trend analysis. As time goes on, we can use rolling multi-year averages to smooth out year-to-year variation
  • The LAI method can be scaled up to MSA, state or other regional aggregates.

And, there are cautions and concerns:

  • Many of the raw data series are based on surveys that are subject to biases, e.g., non-random samples, self-selection, non-response. Private membership organizations especially get their data from annual, voluntary surveys of their members. While their scope may be national, they may still have small sample sizes, and usually don’t have the same respondents in successive years.
  • There are lags between when the activity occurred, when data are released for analysis, and when we can incorporate them into reports. The lags are predictable, but persistent, and can be as long as two years. They are longest in the areas of employment and payroll, which are usually issued by the Census Bureau about 28 months after the period they describe.
  • There is no information available about the variance within individual series (except for a small number of government series). We can’t make assertions about confidence intervals for many of them.
  • The indicators do not cover every element of arts and culture activities, and many aspects escape annual measurement. We continue to seek out data sources that meet our criteria.
  • Associating each record uniquely with one county was sometimes challenging.
  • We made some adjustments for counties that are the sites of state or national headquarters for some arts-related activity, affecting measures in those counties. For example, the measure of NEA funding per capita excludes grants to state arts agencies which would skew per capita measures for the county where the state capital is located. Other data sources have wide variance that produces outliers in county-level analyses.
  • Blau, Judith R. (1989) The Shape of Culture: A Study of Contemporary Cultural Patterns in the United States. New York: Cambridge University Press
  • Bohne, Silber, Silber and Associates & Carole Rosenstein (2010) “Live From Your Neighborhood. A National Study of Outdoor Arts Festivals” Washington, DC: National Endowment for the Arts, retrieved from
  • Cohen, Martin, Randy Cohen, and Roland J. Kushner (2011) Local Arts Index partner handbook, prepared for Local Arts Index partners.
  • Creative Vitality Index studies, retrieved from
  • County Health Rankings of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, retrieved from
  • Community indicator projects listed at
  • Green, Gary Paul and Anna Haines (2012) Asset Building and Community Development 3rd ed. Los Angeles: Sage Publications
  • Jackson, Maria R., F. Kabwasa-Green & J. Herranz (2006) Cultural Vitality in Communities: Interpretation and Indicators. Washington, DC: Urban Institute
  • Kushner, Roland J. and Ariel Fogel (2010) “Measuring Local Arts Vitality: Lessons from Studies in Cities, Counties, States, and Regions” retrieved from
  • Kushner, Roland J. and Randy Cohen (2010, 2011, 2012). National Arts Index. An Annual Measure of the Vitality of Arts and Culture in the United States Washington, DC: Americans for the Arts, retrieved from
  • Savageau, David (2007) 25th Anniversary Places rated Almanac, 7th ed Washington, DC: Placed Rated Books LLC
  • Toffler, Alvin (September 1967) “The Art of Measuring the Arts” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 373, Social Goals and Indicators for American Society, Volume 2,141-155

The Local Arts Index project has benefited from the support, kindness, encouragement, and insights of dozens of helpful people in private and public organizations. The help took many forms: providing data series, helping us interpret what they had, developing tools for data gathering and data reporting, advice on technology to enhance the process of sharing data, pointing us towards other potentially helpful sources, and sharing our interest in developing good measurement tools for the vitality of arts and culture. They are listed below along with the office where they worked when we spoke. This report would not be possible without your support. This list only partially recognizes the many supporters of this project. Thank You!

  • The leaders, staff, volunteers, and communities of the LAI partners
  • The Kresge Foundation: Regina Smith
  • Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance: Tom Kaiden, John McInerney, Nick Crosson
  • York Cultural Alliance: Joanne Riley
  • Drexel University: Cecilia Fitzgibbon
  • Urban Institute: Tom Pollak and Katie Uettke
  • Muhlenberg College Department of Accounting, Business, and Economics
  • Ariel J. Fogel ’11 and Ryan M. Lindsay ‘12, Muhlenberg College research assistants
  • Fred Eisenberg and Charles James, database design and programming
  • The Kyle David Group, database management, report production, web design and management: Kyle David, Jim Sullivan, Eric Decker, Joe Lamposana
  • Many kind and collaborative partners in the federal government bureaus, private arts organizations, research institutions, and commercial data providers
  • Diane Ehrich, Ginny Cohen, Barbara Kushner

Martin Cohen is a principal in The Cultural Planning Group (, and is based in the greater Philadelphia, PA region. CPG is a consulting firm focused on the arts and culture sector that works with leading government arts agencies, philanthropic foundations, and arts and cultural organizations to strengthen them, their communities and the economy. He has been working with Americans for the Arts in the capacity of Project Manager for the Local Arts Index since early in 2010. Martin has been in arts administration for nearly 30 years having served as Director of the Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative, a program of the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage; Executive Director of Dance/USA, the Kansas City Ballet and the Washington Ballet. Martin holds a B.S. degree in Arts Administration from Ohio University and certificates in mediation from CDR Associates of Boulder, CO and executive coaching from the Wharton School Executive Education Program.

Randy Cohen is Vice President of Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading advocacy organization for the arts. A member of the staff since 1991, Randy is among the most noted experts in the field of arts funding, research, policy, and using the arts to address community development issues. He published the two premier economic studies of the arts industry—Arts & Economic Prosperity, the national impact study of nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences; and Creative Industries, a statistical mapping of the nation’s 680,000 arts establishments and their employees. Randy led the development of the Americans for the Arts National Arts Policy Roundtable, a major annual initiative launched in 2006 in partnership with Robert Redford and the Sundance Preserve that convenes national leaders who focus on issues critical to the advancement of American culture. He is a sought after speaker who has given speeches in 48 states, and regularly appears in the news media—including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on CNN, CNBC, and NPR.

Roland J. Kushner, Ph.D., is assistant professor of business at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, where he teaches courses in management, strategy, arts administration, and nonprofit management. He has a B.A. in history from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and MBA and Ph.D. degrees from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. He has conducted culture sector research projects for Americans for the Arts, Chorus America, Urban Institute, RAND, C. F. Martin & Company, and OPERA America, and provided management advisory services to many national and community organizations in the arts and other sectors. He wrote the instructor’s manual to Arthur C. Brooks’ “Social Entrepreneurship. A Modern Approach to Social Value Creation” (Pearson, 2009). With Randy Cohen, he is co-author of the 2009, 2010, and 2012 National Arts Index reports. His work has been published in Nonprofit Management & Leadership, Journal of Cultural Economics, International Journal of Arts Management, Journal of Arts Management, Law, & Society, and Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly. A native of Ottawa, Canada, he has lived in Bethlehem, PA since 1980.


Fast Facts from the Arts Index

Consumer arts spending steady at $150 billion!

Since 2002, consumer spending on the arts has remained in the $150 billion range, though as a share of all expenditures it has slipped from 1.88% in 2002 to 1.45% in 2010. Following four years of decreases, musical instrument sales rebounded, growing from $5.9 billion in 2009 to $6.3 billion in 2010.