Another way to characterize a community’s nonprofit arts population is to look at the mix of small and large organizations. Some communities have a handful of “major” arts institutions that consume a relatively high share of resources and get a lot of attention because they produce large-scale, high volume arts activities. In other places, the arts are more evenly distributed among larger and smaller organizations. We are curious about how concentrated the nonprofit arts marketplaces are in individual communities. For example, the “big 3″ auto makers in the 1960′s and 1970′s had virtually all of the market share for US auto sales. Presently, a small handful of companies control the market for wireless service.

A “four-firm concentration ratio” is the share of the total market that is captured by the four largest arts organizations in that market. We used 2010 Core File data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics for 417 counties with 20 or more arts nonprofits. This indicator measures the share of total expenditures made by the four largest arts organizations in each county. We interpret this as a proxy for what percentage of the arts those top four deliver, as across the arts field, program expenses account for the majority of all spending.

In counties across the country, the top four organizations spend an average of 58 percent of total expenditures. In the median county, the concentration ratio is even higher, 65 percent. This indicator is “reverse scored,” meaning that comparatively lower values on this ratio for a given county suggest more competition, while a higher number is a place more dominated by the biggest players.

Additional Information: Average county indicator value = 57.65%. Median county indicator value = 57.45%.


Fast Facts from the Arts Index

U.S. Share of World Creative Goods Trade is Rebounding! Overall, America’s role in global cultural trade declined steadily from 2002 through 2009, but we have seen a rebound in 2010 and 2011. Almost all of this is due to exports, which change more—both up and down—than imports in the U.S. Trade surpluses are good news for the U.S. economy!